Today, October 4th, we celebrate the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. He is among the more popular saints. I myself have read biographies about him and have a picture of him sitting on a table in my sitting room. In the picture, he is standing outside in the woods dressed in his Franciscan robe with a bird flying at his fingertips.
I think St. Francis’ popularity is growing today because of his love of nature. He is a patron saint of the environment and in a world where global climate change and how we are using our resources is a big concern, St. Francis is called upon for his intercession.
I like St. Francis for two reasons. First, I too love nature. I just love being outside. It is a big part of why I try to take daily walks. Sometimes people ask me if I miss my job working for the New York State Department of Transportation. I think when they ask this question, they are doing so in the context of do I miss being an engineer. Sometimes, but what I miss most about my job with the state is that for five of the seven years I worked for the state, I worked on construction projects and that meant I got to be outside every day. That is what I miss most.
Next to the picture of St. Francis on my sitting table is a window that is six to eight feet across. While it is a big window, I only open the curtains about one foot in the middle. By doing so, the view I have from my chair is of the trees in the backyard and the roofline of the neighbor’s garage that is shaped like an old barn roof. That is the image that reminds me of God’s creation. If I open the curtains more, I see more houses, etc. I prefer the simple setting of the trees and the barn roof.
That leads into the second reason I like St. Francis. He lived under a vow of poverty but not for the sake of being poor but rather for simplicity of life. We live in a busy world. We have too many things going on in our lives and that keeps us from knowing God and being aware of God’s presence in our lives. I find God in the quiet moments and so I long for simplicity of life.
We live in a world that is constantly changing at a rapid pace. In my own lifetime we have gone from computers that took up a whole room to do basic calculations to having cell phones that manage our lives. I myself have a smart phone, an office computer, and a laptop for gadgets.
The first car I drove was a manual shift. Now, they are coming out with cars that drive themselves. Does any of this really make our lives any better?
The vehicle I currently drive has a built in GPS system to tell me how to get to where I am going. GPS in the car stands for “global positioning system.” What I need most in my life is a different type of GPS system. What I need is a “God positioning system” to put me where God wants me to be.