Finding True Center at the Edges

An Introduction to Francis of Assisi

Finding True Center at the Edges
Friday, May 22, 2015

The biblical prophets, by definition, were seers and seekers of Eternal Mystery, which always seems dangerously new and heretical to old eyes and any current preoccupations with security. The prophets lived on the edge of the inside of Judaism, John the Baptist does the same with Temple Judaism, and Paul then sharply disagrees with Peter and the new Christian establishment in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-14). Francis and Clare continued this classic pattern in their own hometown as they physically moved from upper Assisi among the majores (the upper class) to the lower side of town and the minores (the poor and lower class).

There they had nothing to prove or defend, and they gained opportunities to have fresh and honest experience—and to find their True Center. It is ironic that you must go to the edge to find the center. But that is what the prophets, hermits, and mystics invariably know. Only there were they able to live in a way that was not grasping at the superficial or protecting the surface of things, but falling into the core and center of their own souls and their own experiences.

Francis and Clare can show you how to die into your one and only life, the life that you must learn to love. It will show itself to be one continuous movement—first learning to love your life and then allowing yourself to fully die into it—and never to die away from it. Once death is joyfully incorporated into life, you are already in heaven and there is no possibility or fear of hell. That is the Franciscan way. The Gospel is not a fire insurance policy for the next world, but a life assurance policy for this world. Francis and Clare somehow came to see through the common disguises of heaven and hell and they seemed to come to this on their own. My hope and desire in writing these meditations is that you can know heaven on your own, too—and now!

Gateway to Silence:
I must do what is mine to do.

Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. xxi-xxii

Image credit: Scenes from the Life of Francis of Assisi: 5. Confirmation of the Rule (fresco detail), 1325, Giotto di Bondone, Santa Croce, Florence, Italy.