To a Statue of St. Francis

Your focused, caring, interested eyes
caught me as I walked across the grass.
I even reached out to put my fingers
on your open, extended hand –
who would have thought that
grey steel could look so real?

You are the one who talked with the wolf,
who walked thousands of miles in bare feet
to dialogue with the Sultan,
to embrace the leper,
who took down every barrier encountered.

You were made of the same enspirited flesh as I,
but you opened wide to the transfiguring Spirit of Love
–your shaven head and gaunt frame,
your coarse robe and unshod feet
belie nothing held back—
and the marks of the stigmata on your wrists
reveal a oneing of your heart with Christ’s.

Standing in your gentle gaze, your canticle to creation
unfolding all around through birdsong and spring blossom,
you make me realize what God can do
with a simple, humble heart ready to serve.

Looking at you opens my heart a little wider
and puts on my tongue the words:
Use me, Lord; send me in the one Spirit
as you did Francis
to be a troubadour of your love.

Thomas Ryan

About Thomas Ryan

Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Boston, MA. He has authored 15 books on a variety of spiritual life topics, and is the 2016 recipient of the National Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer's Award for outstanding contributions to the work for Christian unity and interfaith dialogue.
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