(This is the last blog post for the “Franciscan Virtues Through the Year” series. It was an amazing process and if you’re interested, I highly recommend working through the virtues yourself!)
The last few months have been a very exciting and challenging experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about how society views others from the context of their own comfort, and that regard, I would like to say that I’ve gained a little wisdom: the problem is that once I put myself on that ground, more often than not I am reminded that I still have a lot to learn, and that when I stand in the mire of what I perceive to be wisdom, I’m actually putting myself on a very unstable pedestal.
The work of continually returning to my own inner self, my needs, my shortcomings, my strengths. Every day my job, my garden, my family, my relationships act as touchstones for me, help me to identify where I have grown, where I need to grow, and to find the ballance between action and reaction, speech and silence, joy and sadness, hanging on and letting go, watching and participating. I don’t compare myself to those who act selflessly–I just aspire to be like them, and hope that each day I can measure up, do better, improve myself and make at least one small difference in the world.
I’ve always felt that the witnessing part comes from how I act in the world rather than what I say, what I do. Part of my mission now is to try and witness without words, without ego; I watch the world around me and see how people in various walks of life, various clusters and cliques, gently slide closer and closer to something akin to self preservation, and a support of self preservation, and further away from the principles of Franciscan spirituality that I have come to love: seeing Christ in the least of us, serving Christ in the least of us, and doing so selflessly.
Where’s my compensation?
How am I supposed to pay my bills?
How am I supposed to stay warm?
How am I supposed to buy? Buy? Buy?
Give and take, give and take, give and take.
The mere idea that we would give without the idea of taking anything very seldom crosses our minds; and yet, it makes sense given when everyone is trapped in a take and give mentality that one would try to take advantage for their own benefit at every opportunity, every stage. But where does that take us?
Addiction to things? Addiction to substances? Addiction to rage, to oppressing others to cover our own weaknesses? Always striving for the next goal mindlessly without considering the surroundings, the people around us, the very health of our own souls?
What do we loose if we simply stop playing the game? Can we simply stop playing?
Witness: trusting in our Faith, living in our Faith, crying through our Faith.
Work: engaging in the world, not on the world’s terms, but on the terms of our Faith, quietly, silently if need be.
Wisdom: finding the balance between witness and work that allows us to practice Christian Charity as Christ Himself would have us do it: by deeds, not by words, or the number of witnesses: going into our inner rooms, closing the door, and in silence where our Father sees us.
I am not a very good Franciscan. But each day I wake up, put my feet on the floor, remembering that I have two legs and a pulse, and an opportunity to make myself a better Franciscan, a better human being.