Each day of this pandemic, I have watched children weave a new world from the fragments of the last. They glide by on skateboards and bicycles, construct games around the telephone poles, linger at creeks with fishing rods. There is laughter and disgruntlement and a certain order to each moment. They are children of color and of whiteness, and they represent what is possible. In this tiny quadrant of the world, they have come to represent the reality of the future. They are celebrating what it means to be alive.
Then, too, there are the new beginnings as we relinquish the ceratinities of the past. There are the friendships, the new triads of acquaintances based on these new patterns and lifestyles. There are drivers who share the road, educators struggling to meet needs, cashiers who are endlessly calm. It is easy to embrace the negative, to condemn, to shout down what vibrance earth is offering in this time of relinquishment.
There is the chance, though, that what we have been asked to relinquish will yeild the more. Today is the feast of St. Francis, a tiny figure from a tiny village whose name was chosen by the current Pope. He embraced poverty and founded a movement known for working with and for the poor. The lesser known part was his commitment to prayer, his need for guidance and assisance, and his ackowledgement of grace. In the pantheon of saints, his tiny figure became an enormous testimony to grace.
There are startling parallels: Jesus was the stone rejected by the builders, and so Francis and his ways were rejected in his time. Still, he savored the earth and nature and all it had to offer. Still he learned and crept away to find sustenance in quiet prayer at the Carceri and at LaVerna. He knew both strengths and limits and so he chose to live. Most of all, he knew the weight of loss: disagreement among the brothers, ill health, even his loss of sight. That last, though, did not mean he could not see. Relinquishment brought him closer to God. In these days, relinquishment’s pain and challenge may also be offering us the promise of grace.
Days of grace. Grace in the midst of a now filled with uncertainty. Grace, the sense of God’s presence which surpasses all understanding. Grace, to draw close to God without even realizing what has happened. Grace is that helping hand waiting to make each moment more livable, more bearable, more vibrant and more to be grateful for. Relinquishment is the prerequisite.