Well Francesco?

Posted on January 12, 2012


mapping the way

I wrote this when on holiday near Assisi. Reflecting on what St FRANCIS might think today as he viewed the visitors to his hometown and then looked at the world through the eyes of the media…


Well Francesco
When you threw off the liveries
And Requisites
And etiquettes of earthly birth
Was your day
Scorched by parching need?
Did you bleed into the hot fields
Or were you released
For a blessing
Bestowed by nature’s grace
Under the undeserved
Love of your new Lord?
Was your arrogance curbed?
Did your assumed notions
Take a long sallow dive
Into the deep-shadowed
Pastures of your homeland?

Well Francesco
Did they welcome you
Before they sanctified you?
Or were you an outcast
From the hallowed walks
Of religious folk?
When you spoke
Were you recognised?
Or were your peaceful intentions
Viewed as dangerous blasphemies,
Your unpretentious living
Seen as a swipe to the face
Of a father’s birthright?
Did horses still carry you
As in the battle days
Or was your gallantry
Replaced by a humble gait?
Were you full of joyfulness
Or did you feel rather
The gnawing of regret
For the loss of easy privilege?


Well Francesco
Do you approve
The industries
Of your fame?
Are you glad now of the way
Your legacy has played
Down the ages?
The plucky nuns from the nations
Still plying the streets of Assisi
Eating ice-creams among the people
And driving large vans down the streets?
The thought-pocked monks
And the groups of spiritual tourists
With flattened crosses
And standardised T-shirts,
Are they indeed searching
For your finite legacy
Or for the infinite love of a Lord
Who you found
During earlier days
Under the blue encrusted skies
Of your beautiful lands of Assisi?


Well Francesco,
When you look today
What is your assessment?
Are we OK?

Does your church flatter or fulfil
Your destiny
Do we husband the beautiful creatures
You so loved?
And is the perilous path of peace
Any closer than
In those heady days of city states
That carved the paths of history
After your departure?
When the sonorous bells
Resound down the valleys of your land
Startling grass snake and sparrow
While the swimmers
Slice through the glimmering sunshine
Within hotel pools
Could you too find
A new way forward
From fortitude to revival?

Would you wonder
If you were to wander through
The busy car-strewn streets of Assisi
And viewed the flying structures that were built
To buttress belief in your Lord?

Would you wonder
At the people who came to see this legacy,
Be impressed by little figurines
Or stories of your life
Or by the kind faces of your monks
Or delighted example of your nuns?

And were you to stretch your gaze
Across the world
Through the optic of the media
Would you be impressed with the edifice of religions
Or sacrifice of charity?
How would you view the merriment of clubbers
The reverence paid to Dollar and Euro
The cuisine of the wealthy
Or destitution and disease
Which images would most impress your eye?

Would you feel surprise
When you see the loss of species
And erosion of earth
The melting ice-caps?
Would you be delighted
When you see simple sacrifice from the genuine
Or the dedication of those who fight
To save the creatures you so loved?
How many times
Would your eyes
Need to sweep the media channels
For you to find
The balance and sum up
The losses and the gains?

Then how would you rate
Our future as a species
How would you feel our pain?
Would you know the solutions?
Or would you hurry back to your cell
To pray again
And worship in hope
That there could be a change?


There is a kind of mirth
Birthed in innocence
Which is resplendent
In the gentle eyes
Of the monks and nuns
Who thrive among the tour-groups
And daily rounds of your town

Is their way a beckoning light?
Are they gently and clearly
Indicating to a lost civilization
And wayward age
Another way to see things
And a beacon of belief
Stripped of the necessities
Of material consumerism
Should we seek understanding
Of the essence of their strength
And shift our paths
Guided by a new compass?

Before we transform the world anew
Should we find
In these dignities and joys
The More-than-Good-News
So Needed
In a world lost and cauterised
By greed
And bled dry by
The demands of iniquity?
Should we be?

Well Francesco
I shall await the deliberations I require of you
With great anticipation!

August 2008 Assisi