Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Once More on Begging

Tomorrow is "Ash Wednesday," the beginning of the Christian period of Lent.  I have mentioned in other posts my love of St. Francis of Assisi, and this year I am very excited that both he and his soul friend St. Clare will be my guides and companions on a Lenten journey thanks to the book, Lent and Easter Wisdom From St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi by John V. Kruse.  For each of the coming forty days there is an excerpt from the writings of one or the other of these saints, a passage of Christian scripture, a prayer, and a suggested action.  I am very excited about this.

I'm also reading (yet another) biography of Francis, this one called Francis:  the journey and the dream by Murray Bodo.  It's a beautifully imaginative telling of the life of Francis by a Franciscan priest and poet.  Absolutely lovely.  And apropos of my recent posts about begging and homelessness, I found these words worth sharing:
Francis had noticed from the beginning that when he went begging, especially, very few people looked into his eyes.  They seemed always to avoid eye contact, either from embarrassment or fear or contempt.  There were, of course, the few bright-eyed, often people whose eyes were surely the lamps of their whole selves radiating love and goodness and trust.

It was marvelous how people became who they really were once you reached out your hand to them in the gesture of the beggar.  Even the insight into people head had gained in his father's shop paled when compared to what he learned begging in the streets of Assisi.  So often the veneer of respectability would be sloughed off and something like a monster would emerge, cursing and destroying you with the venom of words and gestures.  It was an experience only beggars understood.
This morning I saw my friend Shaggy again after not having seen him for several weeks.  I asked him how he was doing and he said, "Ah, you know.  I'm standing here watching people walk past me."  He know.

In Gassho,

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