Br. Michael, ofm
Ten years ago, on Thanksgiving weekend, I told my parents I was considering joining the Franciscans. I statement which I don’t believe I would fully understand and I’m not sure if I do even now. As I shared with my parents about my encounters with the Friars and how I thought I was being called to this way of life, it was the start of a discernment process. I was filtering the questions of my heart, but also the questions from those whom I was allowing into the process at the time. It was a lot to try and understand or even process. I knew I didn’t have answers or clarity in the moment, yet my heart was not burdened it became a place of trust and openness.
This Thanksgiving as I consider the Thanksgiving of a decade ago and all the changes, opportunities, prayers, gratitude and challenges which have been, I look to my heart again. I’m trying to pay attention to it in new ways or renewed ways. Is it still trusting – not in myself, not even in my community of Friars? Rather is it trusting in the spirit of St. Francis which is to ask; is it trusting in our co-journeying God? Is my heart open to the ways to which God is stirring it again? Am I open to the continual working of the Holy Spirit in my daily living?
So often we can get caught up in the “glamour” of newness or the projected images which come in a time of transition that we forget to pay attention to our heart. Our heart is the bank of trust and guide to our openness. I know I have had to work past this “glamour” several times over the past decade and go beyond the surface of emotions, of support and even of my prayer to stop and listen, to pause, and to let the “still small voice” speak up and strengthen me. As I continue on in the Franciscan life, I come to appreciate more and more how St. Francis struggled with being both contemplative and active. I appreciate how he took time to be in creation and be away from the demands so to clear his head and tune again his heart to the melody of love which Christ always sings. I too must do some heart tuning. I appreciate how St. Francis continued to trust and surrender into God, even if life around him seemed so uncertain or the fraternity was not grasping the vision he had for living. I too must continue to trust and surrender my living into God. The invitation is always to the “still small voice”, which is always of deep love.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving and walk into the autumn weeks which build upon it; I know I must continue to make heart time. This is not always easy, just as it was not necessarily easy to tell my parents about becoming a Friar, however every time I return to my heart trust and openness meet me there and I can make steps forward. No matter where you are in your life journey, no matter how you spent Thanksgiving weekend, I encourage you to pay attention to your heart and give thanks for the journey it has guided you on and how it is the place which will encourage your next steps. Gratitude is not just for a season it is a lifetime perspective, and the heart is the vessel for this daily living.
Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez