Nike's Psyche

An outlet for my peaceful ponderings with, perhaps, the occasional rant.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lady Poverty

Saint Francis Marrying Poverty by Andrea Sacchi, 1633

A couple of weekends ago, I drove up to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers to take part in a day-long retreat with my fellow Georgia Franciscans. We spent a good part of the day relating our favorite tales of Saint Francis.

"Saint Francis thought that to choose to be poor is just as good as if one should marry the most beautiful girl in the world," Peter Maurin writes in his poem, We Seem to Think.

Now that I have returned to freelance work, we are back to surviving on my husband's salary for the first six months of year until our royalties start coming in during July. Yes, I could get another job or spend more time pursuing freelance work (as opposed to revising four of our books at our publisher's request), but we have chosen to be "poor" and do the things we love.

Francis and poverty is something I reflect on often. I had intended to share the following with the group that weekend, but found more joy in just recalling events from the saint's life. But, they are too good not to share.

The Lady Poverty
by Evelyn Underhill

I met her on the Umbrian hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod;
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked alone with God.

I met her in the city street;
Oh, changed was all her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked, alone with men.

Francis and Christ
by Oscar Wilde

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there
are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of
sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into
squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird
call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were
Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The
unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one
exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at
his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in
mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of
a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not
difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do
not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of
St. Francis was the true IMITATIO CHRISTI, a poem compared to which
the book of that name is merely prose.

Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is
just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything,
but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And
everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his
life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus.


  • At 6:32 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Becoming something rather than merely learning something. Oscar, how could you be so right, while being so wrong? ;-)

    There is also something profound to Francis' idea of marrying poverty. We have often selected a happier life over a life with more money, and yet we have never touched the edge of Francis' detachment to "stuff". All thought provoking.


  • At 10:03 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Choosing to live deliberately, to follow your bliss and not the almighty dollar, is an honorable and brave thing. It’s also one of the reasons why I respect you and Frank so much.


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