Pope Francis displayed such clear commitment to the human family during his visit to our country. On his face a love for the moment at hand, in his actions a choice to minister to both powerful and powerless and in his words hope for unity to overcome challenges in economics, policy and politics.
I believe that the Pope’s clarity of leadership is because he has long lived a vow of poverty.
Franciscan spirituality embraces poverty as a spiritual discipline. Their vow does not deny the awful ravages of physical poverty instead they identify with people in poverty and seek to be with them. Most important Franciscans seek through their vow of poverty to increasingly be free to identify spiritual poverty in themselves and the human made socio economic environment in which we are born.
I am so deeply challenged by our Lord who identified intimately with those in poverty. I recognize my denial, dismissal, and fear of people physically and mentally impoverished. I also see the counterpart in a denial of my own spiritual poverty.
Physical poverty mirrors spiritual poverty; Franciscans befriend those in poverty because it is opens them to befriend their own spiritual poverty.
Below is a poem I wrote expressing my spiritual heart who knows it needs to make friends with that which is frail, lost, forgetful, lonely, blind, awkward, out of control, sick, hungry, resistant and rebellious within me. Our human poverty is what we have in common. The truth is the only thing we truly have is this moment and the greatest consolation is the love we share in it.
I took a walk in the blessed sunshine. Lady poverty was waiting for me.
As I approached I said, “I do not know you.”
She replied, “you have forgotten, we are well acquainted.”
I insisted, ” I do not know you woman.”
She paused my stride, took my hands, and gazed lovingly upon me.
My spirit wept in the experience of being known and having forgotten myself.
It all came back the many times I refused her friendship, wanting the feeling of control I despised her, desiring to appear professional and confident I ignored her. Opting for a skill set, accomplishments and to be well thought of, I pretended to not know her.
Now in her presence I find a true friend.
I can see the illusion of success and failure; esteem and disregard are no different.
Lady poverty and I shall take a stroll and enjoy being in the blessed sun.