20 October 2008

saint francis of assisi

Recently, I've gotten the chance to do some research on Saint Francis of Assisi for a class (and go to an El Greco exhibit for the same class that featured these paintings). I'm not quite sure I've ever thought more of Francis than his birdbaths/garden statues or his veterinary expertise. What I've come across is instead a wacky and sometimes eccentric man who survived by utter dependence on God. All the stunts, or as Chesterton's biography calls, "a riot of rash vows...gone right," have served to take his aim and reliance off of himself and refocus them on a God that is Creator, Sustainer, and totally Other than himself. Sure, some of the Brother Sun, Sister Moon stuff feels a little odd on my modern tongue, but in my study I'm not sure I would brand him as a naturist or a heretic because his enjoyment of these things never superceded his awe and pleasure in their Creator. Francis has, of late, been an inspiration in "the holy topsy-turvydom of humility" and in what it means to depend on God as if it meant literally hanging on God as a picture frame on a nail. It is refreshing in my life, and in our time to see a saint in the faith that was bizarre and poetic, and utterly unafraid of anything be it war, confrontation, poverty, or controversy. O, that I may find the bravery to depend on Something other than my own effort.

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