In a small village not far from Florence, Italy, a thirteenth-century soldier was imprisoned. The son of a rich merchant, this young soldier had been “lost” for most of his life when suddenly he had a vision to serve God in an unconditional way. He gave up all material possessions, ultimately living and teaching the message of Jesus of Nazareth. This was the man who would come to be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. He became renowned for helping many by simply being in their presence. Wild animals and birds became tame near him, meekly tickling his fingers and flying into his open hands.
On a pilgrimage many years ago, I went to Lower Assisi to visit the tiny chapel that Saint Francis had prayed in every day. The chapel still stands in its exact condition from that time. Today it is surrounded by a spacious building with glorious stained glass windows and an ornate ceiling. Thousands of people mill about in this outer structure; all are in Assisi to pray and pay homage to the thirteenth-century saint. The visitors come and go every day from all over the globe, in solemn, somber, loving tribute to this divine being.
I was escorted into the tiny chapel Continue Reading
If you’re presently evaluating your level of achievement based on how much you’ve accumulated, here’s a way to make a major shift in your state of personal satisfaction and contentment. Verse 46 of the Tao Te Ching invites you to discover a more peaceful and self-satisfying way of knowing success. “Contentment alone is enough,” says Lao-tzu. “Indeed, the bliss of eternity can be found in contentment.” As you let go of the determination to acquire more, your new views will change the world you’ve known. You’ll find that the experience of inner peace becomes your true gauge of accomplishment.
The “disease of more” has created an environment that personifies Lao-tzu’s observation that there is “no greater tragedy than discontentment.” When you truly understand what it means to live peacefully, satisfaction will begin to replace your desire for more. Your world will begin to become tranquil as you change your own life and then touch the lives of your immediate family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and ultimately your nation and the entire planet. Begin by simply thinking of the opening line of the famous Prayer of Saint Francis when you notice that you’re demanding more of anything.
Silently say, Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. As that instrument of peace, Continue Reading
“Lots of people hardly ever feel real soil under their feet, see plants grow except in flower pots, or get far enough beyond the street light to catch the enchantment of a night sky studded with stars. When people live far from scenes of the Great Spirit’s making, it’s easy for them to forget his laws.”
These are the words of Walking Buffalo, a chief of the Nakoda First Nation of Alberta, Canada, who in 1958 traveled the world on a mission of peace and understanding. He reminds us that harmony with the natural world connects us to Spirit—and the essence of who we really are. To have peace and understanding among ourselves and within our world, we need to be in touch with our common Source.
It’s all too easy to forget our connection to the natural world when we live surrounded by technology and the artificial constructions of our amazing modern life. Nature has a way of reminding us, however, when we have overstepped our bounds. The Native wisdom of Walking Buffalo asks us not to forget the sacredness of life and to pay attention to the natural laws at work around us. The air, water, trees, minerals, clouds, animals, birds, and insects are all essential to the sacred web of life which we too often take for granted.
Step closer to your essence by giving gratitude rather than taking for granted. Take a break from the city walls and Continue Reading