Lady Poverty Visits The Vatican: A letter from St. Francis to St. Clare
I hope I am not intruding upon your silence.
Thank you for your recent letter. To have your heart so close is a blessing with no beginning or ending. Yes, there is much light and tears. It is amazing how much Divine our small human heart can feel. All I can do is keep a small nest in my heart for the Divine to come visit and rest as She wishes. This is enough.
Recently, I was walking through the villages and heard there is a new Bishop of Rome! It is said he is humble and a lover of the poor. They say in the past he left his palace and lived simply with everyone in the neighborhood. It will be very interesting to hear how he does in a big and rich city such as Rome. We both know there is no obstacle that simplicity and humility cannot overcome.
After hearing the news, I was resting on a nearby mountaintop and I had this dream. Lady Poverty was visiting the new bishop of Rome! In the dream She is approaching the palace with its high marble walls. She is knocking at the front door. The guards come and push her away. She returns and continues knocking. Three men arrive in long colorful robes, each wearing large crosses with jewels. They open the door, look everywhere, but do not see Her. A priest comes and says She must have an appointment. She continues knocking. She knocks and knocks into the night.
Finally, the new bishop of Rome hears Her and comes to the door. It is now late and he is in his night clothes. He invites Her in. In a small pantry nearby, he serves Her tea and cookies. They have much fun and lots of humor together. The bishop begins to ask Lady Poverty, "How do I tell the rich that it is not a matter of becoming poor but..." In that moment She interrupts him. She reaches across the table and takes hold of both of his hands. There is a big smile in Her heart. Tears form in his eyes. Finally She says, "You really should try to warm this place up." They embrace one another and She suddenly disappears into the night.
Yes, Clare we must warm this place up! There is so little love. Where is the joy? Nothing else is important! I try to tell my brothers. "Don't be distracted. Don't be so busy. Why worry about tomorrow when today there are so many gifts to open?" I know, Clare, you are reminding the sisters the same. I hear you telling them, "Our Lord is here! Come join me in the garden. In the stillness, inside the Rose of our heart, Heaven is burning, bursting in joy!"
The simple people understand but the rich and powerful they always want more. There is never enough. How do we tell them that the real riches are inside? May our new bishop of Rome have a peaceful heart. Surely then his peace will guide all to the living Church.
Clare, Lady Poverty has found a home in your simplicity. May you be held and protected in your golden silence. May your meditation touch the world. Mother Church needs you! Someday, you and your sisters will stand in front of the Church offering life's true Bread to many. Angels will dance. Smiles will replace hardened faces. Gardens of the heart will grow everywhere.
Thank you for being your light, your All.
Thank you for being my true friend and lover of God.
Simple Peace: A Letter To St. Francis of Assisi from St. Clare
My Dear Francis,
Peace and everything good for you. What great news! Who would have ever imagined one of your brothers becoming Bishop of Rome! Our Lord is truly wonderful. Rome is the place for the rich and powerful and now sitting on the throne is a brother of Francis! I heard he refuses to wear the fancy robes of his office. They say he is preaching humility, serving the poor, and will visit prisoners during our Holy Days? And people say miracles do not exist!
Francis, I know there is only one reason to be truly excited and this is when our Lord visits us in our hearts. But regarding Earthly news, you must admit this is exciting! Kings and Queens, the rich and powerful will be coming to Assisi not to judge you but to ask how can they join you on your path? What will you tell them? Will you ask them to throw their riches into the river? Will you tell them to give all their power away? Francis are you ready for the world to be at your feet like the little birds in your garden? Imagine everyone with one prayer, one heart, asking "Lord make me an instrument!"
Peace, Francis, peace – this is what you should teach! Let them keep their possessions. Let them keep their worldly power. Share with them the simple peace. This is enough. Tell them about the beauty of peace in every moment. Give them the simple steps that you and I know so well. Step by step, peace and more peace with everyone and everything. This will be a good beginning. Once they feel the peace, what do riches and power have to offer? Why would they chase after earthly comforts when they have life's true treasure? Once they feel the peace inside what else is of value but wanting to serve one another?
Everyone wants peace, Francis, but they do not know the source of this peace. You must teach them. Real peace comes only from a peaceful heart! And a peaceful heart comes from finding so much God inside that there is no room for anything else but peace.
When the princes and princesses of the world come to Assisi, take them on top of Mt. Subasio. Ask them to be quiet and listen to sister wind. Invite them to let brother silence carve out a home in the stillness of their heart. "Here is peace. Prayer is the simplicity of your own heart." Francis, I hear your words. "All we need to do is offer everything in our heart." Sit with them Francis. Tell them not to be in such a hurry! Ask them to sit and feel our Lord's presence. Let them know, "There is an inner garden!" Teach them Francis that peace is a practice. Every day we go to the sacred well of peace inside our hearts. As peace becomes more important, our self- importance becomes less. Slowly, slowly we become instruments with a sound that is beautiful and true. Peace is not something that happens in the world. Peace happens in our world as we make friends with the nakedness of our heart. Francis, this is your teaching, your life. It is no accident so many brothers have come to you from all over the world. You have shown us all, God is no further away than our heart.
Francis, I remember our time together recently in the olive trees at San Damiano. We talked all day without a word spoken. In the perfect silence we shared everything in our hearts. The birds, little flowers, trees, the whole world seemed in complete agreement. Then the farmers from nearby came running up to us saying they saw flames and smoke! It was only you and me Francis, sitting, looking at one another, burning inside in simple peace.
I never shared with you, Francis, but that night I cried myself asleep. There were so many tears of gratitude for all the milk and honey God has opened in my heart. The tears would not stop, neither does my gratitude for what we give to one another.
Thank you Francis, eternally thank you.
Yours truly in our Lord.
Bruce Davis Ph.D., a globally respected psychologist, has spent the last three decades promoting the inner peace that was the cornerstone of these two saint’s lives. He and his wife Ruth began leading retreats in 1983, and eventually came to open the Assisi Retreat Center in Assisi, Italy, which was called one of the world’s 10 best by both Travel and Leisure Magazine and CNN. Today, they operate Silent Stay, a new retreat center on a stunning hillside near Napa, California, where many come to turn off their electronic tethers for mediation, quiet and inner exploration. For more information on the book visit, www.gravedistractions.com. For more information on Silent Stay, go to: www.SilentStay.com