For some reason I have always been drawn to statues of St. Francis. Perhaps it is because my mom had one in her garden in Texas, or maybe it's because I learned to sing the prayer of St. Francis back in 3rd grade, and have always been guided by its principles.
But I suspect it is nothing so obvious or noble as that: it's probably just the tenderness of these statues -- the austerity of the monk in his robes, the sweetness of his expression for the tiny bird that rests in his hand or on his shoulder.
And what I have just realized this morning is that in two weeks I will actually be in Assisi! This is the part of the trip that someone else planned, so I haven't paid much attention to where it will take us, other than to make sure it includes Venice! So it was a delight to discover -- though I knew that I'd be bringing back lots of photos of statues -- that I'd actually be going to the motherlode of St. Francis.
A few months back I fell in love with a handcarved and painted wooden statue of Francis from Mexico. (You need to understand -- I don't actually OWN any St. Francis statues) and I seriously thought of buying it. But something kept stopping me, even though his glass eyes seemed to follow me around the store. I assumed at the time that it was just a reluctance to spend the money (it was pretty pricey, like much of what you find in the stores on our island).
Now I wonder if the connection wasn't about the statue at all, but rather just to raise awareness. Because I went home and discovered I'd been collecting St. Francis photos since the first year I began photographing professionally. Hmmm. Looks like there will be more of those images in my future: what fun!
... and since I was just discussing this with someone who loves St. Francis but couldn't remember his wonderful prayer, here it is (thank you, Wikipedia!)
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.