St. Francis’ Journey and Dream

As many know from prior posts, I love St. Francis of Assisi. I always felt and affinity for him, and during my Buddhist years he was my one continuous link to Christianity.

I just finished reading a wonderful book titled Francis: The Journey and the Dream, by Murray Bodo, a new 40th anniversary edition of which has recently been released. Unlike other books about Francis I’ve read, this is less a biography than (as John Michael Talbot terms it in his foreword to this new edition) a book of prose based on history. And a beautiful book of prose it is. It captivated me from the first chapter.

The book does not attempt to present Francis as superhuman or perfectly holy. It conveys his doubts, his fears, his discouragement and the loneliness he sometimes felt. But it also conveys the fidelity with which he followed God’s call to rebuild his church and the power of his evangelization. With respect to the latter, Francis understood more than many that the most powerful evangelization was example: “If Francis were holy and Christlike, those who saw him would eventually look at their own following of Christ in view of what Francis himself was.”

The episodes of Francis’ life Bodo relates reveal many of the things I love about Francis. His humility. The incredible gratitude he had, holding “everything to his heart with the enthusiasm of a child surprised by some unexpected toy,” and thanking God constantly for everything he experienced. His understanding that “our existence alone is enough” and that we never need strive to be anything other than fully ourselves. His ability to find God in everything because of his sureness that God was always with him. The love he showered on all who he came in contact with. Bodo writes beautifully that all of Francis’ life was an effort to preserve his original insight into love and to act always out of that insight…the insight that

love was looking into the eyes of the other; and forgetting the dark void between you and forgetting that no one can walk in a void, you start boldly across, your arms outstretched to give of yourself and to receive of the other.

Whether, like me, you already have a special place in your heart for Francis or whether you simply want to learn a bit more about this man of God, you will benefit from reading this book. Francis’ life is as apt a model now as it was for his initial followers all those years ago.

This book was sent to me by the Catholic Company as part of its reviewer program.