Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Experiencing Francis and Nature at Red River Gorge

"His attitude towards creation was simple and direct, as simple as the gaze of a dove; as he considered the universe, in his pure, spiritual vision, he referred every created thing to the Creator of all. He saw God in everything, and loved and praised him in all creation. By God's generosity and goodness, he possessed God in everything and everything in God. The realization that everything comes from the same source made him call all created things -- no matter how insignificant -- his brothers and sisters, because they had the same origins as he."
--Minor Life of St. Francis
The Franciscan spirituality which I am following is connected with God, Man and Nature. Nature was a inseparable reality in Francis’ spirituality. And it was the intention of three of us as we reached the beautiful Red River Gorge at Lexington to be with the nature and taste the experience Francis had in the nature. We choose to tent near a stream which was a beautiful spot surrounded by woods. It was about 3.5 miles to reach to the spot and the luggage was really heavy so we were very tired. I rested on a fallen tree; I never knew I could sleep so well on a little curved trunk. Brother wood was very careful not push me down; I could feel his tight hug. I think I slept more than two hours hearing the lullaby of the stream enjoying the hug of the wood. The sun was moving to India to give my message to my brothers.
As we waked up we tried to make a camp fire but the brother fire was not so kind to us may be the place was so wet of previous day’s romance of earth and rain. I remembered of Francis’ eye surgery and he asking brother fire to be kind to him and it does so. I shared the story with the brothers. Dinner was chicken vegetables; we said the evening prayer before the dinner, the nature, animate and inanimate creatures were praying with us. The food was tasty and ate with haste within couple of minutes. I slept very tight that night hearing the praising of crickets. I remember “One time during the summer blessed Francis stayed in the cell next to the hedge of the gardener behind the house. It happened that one day, as he came down from that little cell, there was a cricket within on the branch of the fig tree next to that cell, and he could touch it. Stretching out his hand, he said: "Sister Cricket, come to me." The cricket immediately climbed onto the fingers of his hand, and with a finger of his other hand, he because to touch it, saying: "Sing, my Sister Cricket." It obeyed him at once and began to chirp. This consoled blessed Francis greatly and he praised God. He held it in his and that way for more than an hour. Afterwards he put it back on the branch of the fig tree from which he had taken it.
And in the same way, for eight days constantly, when he came down from the cell, he found it in the same place. And daily he would take it in his hand, and as soon as he told it to sing, touching it, i, it sang. After eight days, he said to his companions: "Let us give permission to our sister cricket to go where she wants. She had consoled us enough; and the flesh might vainglory form this." As soon as it had received permission, the cricket went away never appeared there again. His companions admired how obedient and tame she was to him”. (Flowers of the Three Companions)
The morning was not usual. It was very different lifestyle, no toilet no water tub, no shower everything is natural and I realized why a natural call is “natural call”. After morning prayers and breakfast we got ready for hiking. It was 12 miles walk through the forest. It was not as easy as I thought; my mind was giving up many times but I was asking my mind to be courageous. Lunch was on walking- a crunchy peanut biscuit and we reached the so called red river. I thought it will be a large river; but it was not so. We jumped in to the red river and cooled off.
The journey began again to return to the tent, I was slowing down. Some deers were watching us on the way and few beautiful birds too. They may be excited to see the Franciscans. I remembered the story of the companions of Francis: “Father Francis and his companions were making a trip through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into the air as he spoke. But they moved not.
Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: “My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.”
At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.
Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way”.
Just after the morning prayers and breakfast we started our journey to the canoeing and kayaking spot. It was a unique experience of 8 miles canoeing and kayaking. The nature scenes were really breathtaking and fabulous. Varieties of birds, fishes and even a turkey were on our way. I remembered Heraclitus who said "You cannot step twice into the same stream”; his famous doctrine about change.
The stream is good actor: sometimes act like a sanyasi: very calm and quite; another time, a rowdy very rough and tough; sometimes laughs like a mad women; sometimes very gentle, I loved the journey. I love the movie Brother Sun and Sister moon very much and in the movie, It is a shore of a brook that Francis and companions bathed the lepers and served them. It was stream side Francis cut the beautiful golden hair of Clare. We stopped in two places to cool ourselves. When we reached back to our tent we expressed our physical tiredness of being on hot sun and long journey in spite of all tiredness, we were happy that we could return the next day to see our friars.
Celebrating holy Mass surrounded by Mother Nature was another beautiful event of the next day. I am sure that Francis and the whole nature was with us for the celebration. We thanked god for all these beautiful days with nature and we three in same voice said it was an amazing experience. After the mass we bid good bye to the Red River Gorgeous for an interval.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Nightmare of a History Student

Hitler, the cruelest man the world has ever seen!
sleepless is my night reading you.
where shall I bury you?
If I bury you on earth,
you will barren our land.
If I cremate you,
you may pollute the environment.
If I dump you into the river,
the water sources will be contaminated.
Where shall I bury you?
I bury you in my subconscious mind,
but I fear you may come in my dreams.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Who are the real heroes?

From my favorite poetess

Nameless na├»ve ones who have lost their future –
without them I’d lost all confidence in the future.

They could, but they don’t want to get rich –
grasping their innocent poverty parsimoniously.

They could, but they don’t want to find fame –
they’re proud enough having chosen to be a nobody.

They could — with hardly any effort –
but don’t want to, climb upwards.

They’ve taken the road — what a feat!
downwards, downwards – to the peak of the root.

And on from there to discover the hidden prospect
of blossom and fruit — still at the pre-embryo stage.

Blaga Nikolova Dimitrova (1922 - 2003) was a Bulgarian poetess and Vice President of Bulgaria from 1992 until 1993.

When I read this poem, many people like St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Treasa, Gandhi, St. Maximilian Kolbe appeared to my mind.

St. Francis said to me, my father was a rich man and I had all the riches in my life. I could be a chivalrous man among my friends, I could be a center point of many beautiful ladies, I could be a man praised by all. But I renounced all for the discovery of the hidden prospect of blossom and fruit. I remembered the picture of Francis standing on the globe and trying to hug Jesus.

Mother Treasa told me showing her wrinkled face, I could be a beautiful woman in Albania. I could polish my nails, I could spend money on facial, I could dress up beautiful but I renounced it for the uplifting the people of gutters of Calcutta.

I looked at the picture of St. Maximilian Kolbe, he was like an x ray copy. I could count all his bones, a prey of the concentration camp of Auschwitz. A flame raises from his thin and tired body, he is led to heaven with Blessed virgin Mary. He renounced his life for another man, he could save himself but he spend his life for another man.

There are many people who have dedicated their future. What are we dedicating ourselves to discover the hidden prospect of blossom and fruit.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jesus has no hands but our's

During the last war, a church in Strasbourg was destroyed. Nothing remained except a heap of rubble and broken glass, or so the people thought till they began clearing away the masonry. Then they found a statue of Christ still standing erect. In spite of all the bombing it was unharmed except that both hands were missing. Eventually rebuilding of the church began.

One day a sculptor saw the figure of Christ, and offered to carve new hands. The church officials met to consider the sculptor’s friendly gesture—and decided not to accept the offer. Why? Because the members of that church said: “Our broken statue touches the spirits of men, but that He has no hands to minister to the needy or feed the hungry or enrich the poor—except our hands. He inspires. We perform.”

It is true Jesus has no hands to work in this world. He needs our hands, eyes, feet and mouth. Do not blame anybody for our excuses.

It was in Assisi the Franciscanism emerged. The church was in so called dark age. St. Francis, an ordinary youth from Assisi tried to build up the Church. He never criticized anyone. He changed the world through his exemplary life.

Once St. Francis asked his intimate disciple Leo: let us go and preach? They took a round through Assisi and returned in the evening. Francis did not preach to anyone. Leo asked the reason. Francis said the way we walked, the way we greeted and the way we dressed yes, Leo, we were preaching.

A priest complained to the pope there is nobody good in the world. He said let us start from us.

A poem

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today

He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way

He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died

He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible the careless world will read,

We are the sinner’s gospel; we are the scoffer’s creed;

We are the Lord’s last message, given in word and deed;

What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?

What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is?

What if our tongue is speaking of things His lips would spurn?

How can we hope to help Him or welcome His return?

—Annie Johnston Flint

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ’s compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”

St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish nun

Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do".

Dear companions, we need, as a church, to extend Christ’s hospitality beyond our own walls, to serve in our own community in a regular and meaningful way, not just with our financial support but with our own hands. Christ has no hands but ours now. How will we use them? Whether it is to serve at the soup kitchen, or to shelve groceries at the food pantry, or to knit prayer shawls for people in the hospital, or to serve in some way we haven’t yet imagined, we need as a community of faith to commit ourselves collectively to service for others. Let us think about this for the next semester.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Be still and know I Am God

Aristotle said "man by nature is seeker of God"

Prophets of doom and darkness will say there is no existence of God.

But the true seekers of wisdom do not agree.

The Hindu sages overcomes the ignorance through yoga. Through which they rise to awareness Brahman is the only reality. Plurality is mere appearance. The true knower is called stitaprnjan. He will realize that tat tvam asi that is thou are Brahman. To this reality sages prayed:
"O God! lead us from darkness unto light
O God! lead us from death unto life
O God! lead us from untruth to truth"

Siddhartha experienced life as sickness, old age and death. He asked himself is what it means? He fell in to deep silence and realized self awareness. He became Buddha - enlightened. He saw these are the result of man's uncontrolled desires like sex, money and life. He who practices the eightfold paths will realize nirvana.

believes Christ is the centre of the history and the cosmos. Jesus says "I am the life and the resurrection"( 1 Cori. 14:15). In christainity the ultimate truth is the risen Christ.

Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
Let God unveils in our minds and hearts through education....

The English poet wrote:

"The mountains are hidden by fog
still the peaks are there
the Sun is shadow by the cloud
still it is shining..."

St. Gregory wrote:

"God is within all things but not included, God is outside all things but not excluded, God is above all things but not beyond our reach".