Remembering our own goodness

st francis san damiano
The greatest thing you can do for another is not  share your riches,
but reveal to them their own.   Benjamin Disraeli
Today is the feast of Saint Francis, from Assisi in Umbria, a peaceful and beautiful place I have visited many times over the years, and where I took this photo on Easter Sunday morning after the dawn liturgy. Francis was a man deeply in touch with the beauty and wisdom of creation, and he demonstrated a great capacity for being with his experience, and honouring every element – the moon and the stars, the earth and water – go so far as to call each one his brother or sister.  As this lovely poem recounts, he showed a fundamental respect for all creatures. We often can find this easier than respecting and honouring our own selves. But meditation is essentially this – being gently present with, without judgment, honouring our experience – dropping into what Jon Kabat Zinn calls the “Being Mode”, where we can taste our original goodness. In that place we do not have add anything in order to be complete. And “mindfulness” is related to the verb “to remember”, remembering to be present, but also remembering the space that resides beneath the clutter of thoughts and worries. Doing this gives us a break from the busy, frequently judgmental,  doing and thinking mode, which often leans towards wanting more.
The bud stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   
as Saint Francis put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch   
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow   
began remembering all down her thick length,   
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine   
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering   
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Galway Kinnell, Saint Francis and the Sow

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