St Francis Day, and a Friday Five

Sally at RevGals reminded us that Friday was the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. You may remember him as the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment. Check out her retelling of his story for this week's Friday Five.

In honor of St. Francis, she dedicated this week's Friday 5 to him.

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?
Yes, actually. It may well seem like a small thing, but it was very difficult for me. I've pushed for so long in my life to be independent, on my own. Somewhere along the way, I missed the point that none of us can ever really be independent of anyone else. It's not enough to "do it on my own" and lean only on Jesus. I have a network of people (and animals!) who, despite my stubbornness, pick me up and show me that sometimes, a little co dependence is alright.

A couple of years ago, it seriously hit home. I was sick, had been sick for months, and wasn't getting answers from my doctors. I was losing weight and trying to hide the fact that I was sick from a new boyfriend. He is probably still amazed to know that for 2 months, the only time I ate real food was when we went to dinner 2 or 3 times a week. The rest of the time I drank Ensure shakes because nothing stayed down. Just as I found a doctor who was getting answers, boyfriend left and I was scheduled for surgery. I went from being completely independent, even to the point of not talking to my parents about all the various issues involved in being sick, to desperately needing my mom and daddy to help me with the surgery and recovery to helping to heal my broken heart. In 10 years, I hadn't turned to them like that and it was horribly hard to do. But it taught me to hold on to that network and to let them take care of me, to let them care about me.

To be fair, it turned out to be only a gall bladder that had mysteriously died on me. Well, in me. But none of the tests showed that, it all looked like everything was working fine, but I was losing weight practically overnight. I was a little overweight when it started, maybe 10 or 15 pounds. By the day of surgery, I'd lost that plus 35 more. It was bad.

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?
I can't say I know this feeling. I've never been persecuted for anything, really. But I do admit that I don't often think about those who live through constant persecution. It's much like the war in Iraq (or the whatever going on in Iraq)--it's not happening in my living room or next door, so it's not really real to me. I suppose it's a blissful ignorance of sorts. Bringing it back to the forefront of my mind, in reading Francis's story, and in thinking more about the things that go on outside my comfortable little bubble, I am challenged to remember those people that don't have the option of ignorance, like I do.

3 .St Francis had female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis sermon and went on to found the Poor Clare's, like the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....
I think women need role models like St Clare. I think sometimes women believe that because religious history seems to be more focused on men, women cannot or should not push. But strong women who bucked the patriarchal system can show us that God moves in and through us just as strongly (if not more so, sometimes) as He does in men.

My grandmother was not mover and shaker. But she was incredibly dedicated to her role as wife, mother, and grandmother. When I was fresh out of college, in my first real job, I angered my grandfather very much, to the point of being disowned and bad-mouthed to my family. A rift was created my father and his, because obviously my choices (about politics of all things) were directly influenced by the job my parents did in raising me--which apparently was a poor job. I wish, still, that my grandmother had stood up to my grandfather during that time and supported me. But I also, now, respect her decision to remain loyal to my grandfather, a man she vowed to support in all things, as tough as it must have been to allow relationships to be battered and bruised and severed.

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today?
I think it's immensely important. It's not just about nature and the animals, or the people around you. I believe everything is here by the grace of God, the good and the not so good. God can be found in some way in everything we see, do, or experience. Painful and evil things even. I love the world my Father has put me in, though I don't always love the things in the world. But those individual things that I find hard to love are the things He has placed in my path to learn from, to open my eyes to Him.

So is it important to express love of His created world? Yes. He loves it enough to have sent His Son into it. And He gives us this created world, with all it's problems, so that we might appreciate Him and eternity better.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?
I've never done this, but would love to at some point. For now, I am content to do my praying and Bible study with WonderDog in my lap. When I was at my mother's during the summer, I would spend the cooler mornings and evenings in her screened in patio with my Bible and my laptop. I would pray out loud, and would open my eyes to find that not only WonderDog was sitting still (a miracle in and of itself) listening to me, but her cats had wandered up and were curled at my feet. All three (WD and the cats) had glazed eyes and were breathing slowly. I would feel God's presence more strongly than I ever have in that house. He was there, with the 4 of us, wrapping all of us in His love, through my prayers. What an amazing way to start and end a day.

To view other thoughts and ruminations on these questions, visit RevGalBlogPals this week.
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