My dear brother Francis,
Over the past few months I have written several letters to you. It was a way to prepare for Solemn Vows and this life which you have inspired. Today I write to you again as your Feast Day draws near, I find it always good to touch base with you near October 4.
I read something recently about you which I have not really considered. I read: “Francis was one of the most free people who ever lived – internally free, that is.” I suppose like the rest of world I always look at you with the outside lens. I see what you did, how you lived, what you desired and worked for and how that still impacts people’s lives today. I guess at times, even as your brother I fail to look deeper and realize why I and so many others are attracted to the way you lived. And yet the answer is in the above statement I read – your freedom. And is that not what I desire? To be free in Christ, like you were? To abandon into God’s love and to surrender to the working of the Holy Spirit?
I know that freedom doesn’t mean easy. I know that freedom is about continual conversion. I know that freedom means a daily voicing of “my heart is ready, O Lord, my heart is ready.” It is maybe now on the other side of pilgrimage to your home town and my Solemn Vows that I can grasp this freedom a little more. Or maybe I know it as a deeper desire or maybe even as living in it a bit more – a bit freer even. I grasp it not in big, grand ways but like you in little ways. To discover where love and wisdom penetrate my living. To seek peace and contemplation as part of my daily living. To be in awe of God’s continual goodness, no matter what. To delight in God’s mercy and grace each day. This is why you were free, isn’t it?
It comes back to simplicity and simplicity means we have a conversion of heart each day. This conversion means freedom for we release ourselves from the bondage of demands, expectations and projects – we make space. Make space to be with our God, to dialogue with Christ and to allow the Spirit to transform us again and again. It is in the daily transformation that leads to true freedom, isn’t it? And you knew this and abandoned into this truth. My brother, help me to see ways each day that I too can do this, for freedom is a great gift which I know calls me to the fullness of life.
You know as I walked the streets of Assisi, I couldn’t help but think that it felt like a noisy maze. I thought about you and how you needed to move out of the maze to encounter God in the quiet and in the open. Not running way from people but rather being able to be present to them away from the distractions of life. It is now as I ponder that, that I understand more about freedom. The heart and soul in tune led you out of the maze into the freedom of God. I desire this in my living.
As I think back to my Solemn Vows there were several moments of freedom, where my heart soared and drew deeper into God’s awesomeness. The way a song filled the air, the embrace of loved ones and my brothers, the moment of the Litany of the Saints, the joy which echoed – all of these moments were glimpses of freedom because I was simply present. The breath of the Spirit drew me in and I was free.
My dear brother the simplicity of your wisdom is amazing to me. You didn’t get caught up in theories or politics rather you got caught up in freedom and because of this you encountered the depths of love. As your brother I too desire this. In the time and place in which I live, in the work which is mine to do, in the learning, in the ministering and in the seeking may I always come to know and encounter the freedom that you did. May I always strive to be open to the freedom which you knew… the freedom which is Christ in the every day, in everything and everyone. When moments consume me with worldly wants and goals may I not get caught up, rather may I leave the maze and so grow in freedom.
My dear brother Francis as we remember and celebrate you and your entry into eternal life please pray for me, pray for all of us. Pray that we breath out the consuming ways we can be caught up with and rather breath in the freedom which you knew and now are embraced in. Continually show us in this day and age that Christ in the love of God and in the openness of the Holy Spirit dwells with us and desire only our freedom.
My dear brother thank you for reminding me again that this freedom is what continually draws me to the Source of Life.
Happy Feast Day!
Until next time,
Your Little Brother Michael