this moment

Camping

The day St. Francis lost his head

Francis statue

Where to begin with the strange tale I am compelled to tell?

St. Francis

St. Francis is stalking me.

He must have a message for me anyways. And he is using some humor to get through to me. He is also a saint that knows how to get my attention. It’s not always so easy to get.

While not overtly religious, I have always had a fascination with St. Francis of Assisi. The man, the myth, the legend, the saint. I’ve always been drawn to his story and his path of compassion for others, especially animals. This has been true since I was a young girl. Interestingly, I went on the career path of helping others-mainly children and animals.

St. Francis and I have not always been close in the more recent years. However, last year- my daughter and I studied him in great depth while homeschooling a block on Saints and Heroes. My love for St. Francis was rekindled and, together, we really studied his path.

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Fast forward about a year, I opened my therapeutic barn business on a wayward path that I felt deeply inside, yet never saw completely, but God laid out for me -story to come. I happened upon a beautiful statue of St. Francis in a garden shop one day that touched me and reminded me of our long-enduring relationship. I imagined St. Francis somewhere magical on the property “looking out for” those that needed it- the children, the animals, the vulnerable, the…..me. That statue, beautiful as it was, was just too expensive to justify purchasing. That was okay, it renewed my spark to honor his vision in my barn.

A few weeks or so ago, wouldn’t you know, a (slightly plainer version of that) St. Francis statue turned up in my life for $20. He came home with me. He was lovingly placed in my “meditation garden”. I felt the barn was complete and took it all in with gratitude.

Four days ago, my daughter had a friend over. They were having a snack at the dining table by the window that looked out over the garden. Her friend suddenly said “why do you have a headless statue out there?”. I moved over to the window to look. St. Francis had fallen over and his head was broken off. Oh shit….

I figured that I would get out there, recover his head and super glue it back on. Holy again. Not too worried. Went on with a couple of busy days.

Last night, I stumbled upon this inspirational quote that spoke to me in a “dark night” I found myself embroiled in. I was finding myself, now, no longer surprised by St. Francis’ stalking behavior. His messages speaking loudly now. I shared it on a personal social media site. I try to be selective there on what I share. But, you know -when St. Francis speaks to you. You shut up and be the instrument. Right?

St. Francis

So, today I went out to the garden to fix his head. My daughter was with me. The funny thing was that I also had a group of five other kids with me here for a “barn-day” camp. They wanted to come back into the garden to play with the puppy. While they were throwing a tennis ball around, I snuck over to find his head. My daughter followed. …..there was no head. I couldn’t find St. Francis’ head! I looked over at my daughter and said “where’s the head???” She said, “I don’t know, I can’t find it”. We looked, and searched, nowhere to be found. Yet there was nowhere it could’ve gone as it’s in a small fenced garden area. The head is GONE. For a moment I felt sad, or guilty, or something. Would I be struck by lightning? Then I looked back to my daughter and said “St. Francis’ head is missing!” and she started laughing so hard. She has been having a tough time lately, lots of rough emotional stuff for a 9 year old to deal with. My happy baby hasn’t been smiling so much these past few weeks. Her smile lit up the garden and she laughed, oh she laughed. And in that moment, I felt St. Francis’ presence, I felt his smile, I felt his grace, I felt his protection. And, I started laughing too….so hard. Then over my daughter’s shoulder I saw the group of kids laughing and chasing each other around and felt that this was what was meant to be here. Laughter, beauty, love, fun, healing and GRACE. By God, grace is here if nowhere else in the world. The barn will be a place of grace. Even when St. Francis’ head is broken, gone and missing. He wasn’t a statue made of stone, he was a saint made of love and grace. He blessed us in his brokenness, just as he did in his life. What I love most about St. Francis is that he was not perfect, he was rough and broken in his day. He knew he was human and full of mistakes. He also knew he was full of love, giving, kindness and grace. How could he give all of that if he had not had need for it in his life?

“I’ve cussed on a Sunday. I’ve cheated and I’ve lied. I’ve fallen down from grace a few too many times, but I find holy redemption…..can I get a hallelujah, can I get an amen…” -maren morris

I almost want to end there. Because the rest gets unbelievable-but…this evening after all the kids had gone and the evening fell quiet, I felt a spiritual pulling. I decided to visit our spiritual center tomorrow morning. Haven’t been going as regularly as I once did. I went online to see what the talk would be. When I went onto the website, a list of classes being offered popped up. Well, wouldn’t you know “Living the Prayer of St. Francis” is a class starting on July 9th. And, this is a spiritual center mind you, not a Catholic Church. St. Francis is stalking me. I will heed this stalk call. I’m signing up for the class tomorrow.

And, I still hope to find your head St. Francis. Thank you for helping me find mine.

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