This prayer of Saint Francis is a pathway to the transformation of life. Life is bigger than any one individual, but includes every individual – plant and animal. Human life reflects this same reality. Creation is a process – a journey; always moving and changing. The old dies and the new is born. For most of us, the prayer of Saint Francis is a reminder of this reality and a prayer that allows us to let go – to be open to the future. It is also a reminder that ultimately are not in charge.We always like to pretend that we are in charge and have a hard time letting go.
Thousands of years ago, people worshipped many gods; gods of the animals and plants that they depended on for food. They were aware of their dependence and realized that all of life was connected. As people moved from a hunting gathering to an agricultural culture, including cities and writing. In more recent times, we moved from the Agricultural to the Industrial Age, and most recently are moving into the Technological Age and Globalization. In other words, life does not stand still; it evolves with a great deal of struggle and strife. We are able to see these trends looking backwards and telling stories. The stories are almost always of the struggle, told by metaphors and analogy. The shifts are much too complicated for mere words, so we develop wonderful stories that speak to the imagination, seeing in all of this shifting and evolving some outside force; the hand of God.
Because we cannot fathom God, we like to create God in our own image; personifying God with human traits such as anger, jealousy, revenge, while at the same time, love and compassion. We create in our imagination a God or gods that reflect the broader human traits that demands obedience but forgives disobedience. In our cultures, we have over the centuries developed caste systems, power structures and rules and regulations and therefore presume that these structures reflect the divine will – the way of the Gods. At the same time, we hear voices – calling us to realize that we are one creation, in all of it’s diversity, still becoming. We search in our hearts to find the way to becoming more fully human. In our hearts, we realize that we are surrounded by light and darkness; by life and death. We look for light and life, but find the way surrounded by feelings of fear and trepidation. For instance we read of the journey that the disciples of Jesus walked together, listening and learning, imperfectly but nonetheless learning. They, looking backward saw the Word of God come alive in Jesus, proclaiming Love and Life. He also proclaimed that it was critical to trust in the Spirit of Life that was indeed transforming the world through creation.
Sometimes our problems stem from the human lack of trust. We don’t trust others, we don’t trust God and we don’t even trust ourselves. We see hidden motives and we are jealous of others and the gifts that they have for the common good, ignoring the gifts that we hold within ourselves. We want it all; we compete to have more than others; to have the most. We crave affection, power, and control. Our fears are fed by these cravings; these addictions. Love requires giving up our addictions and letting go. We all participate in something much grander than ourselves; we participate in the miracle of life becoming.
Change is uncomfortable and difficult when it is not initiated by us – we lose a sense of power and control. We are not afraid of change – we just want it to go the way that we decide. We want to be in control. We have a difficult time looking at the grand diversity and realizing that maybe we don’t know everything – that we might actually fail to understand all of the mysteries that surround us. We like to make things very small – so small that we can be in charge; we shrink our world to fit our small minds, failing to realize that when we begin to actually listen to one another that we add to the whole and that together we have a much fuller vision of God’s reality. We are connected and we are in need of moving outside of ourselves and allowing the whole of creation to teach us. This is the beginning of Love.
The Gospel message (Good News) is just that; Good News! We are called to understand that each person reflects the wisdom of creation – without regard to their race, gender, sexuality, intellectual ability, or any other lines of division that we might like to draw. We are all part of something much larger that the individual, but each individual adds to the whole. We are the drops of water in the ocean; cells in the body.