I spent a week
in Assisi
with Francis
in August 1982,
celebrating his
800th birthday.

Intoxicated by love,
I wandered through the
colorful display of flowers,
trillions of flowers,
every size and shape,
full and scattered
across several hospitable
Umbrian farmlands
this mythic village.

Wine, cheese and
a loaf of fresh Italian bread
in my knapsack, I
followed my intuition,
not knowing where and why, I
got lost and found again
in a veritable wonderland
of “Little Flowers.”

One day I sat at his tomb,
buried inside tons of cement
beneath the Upper Church
where Napoleon stabled
his horses.

Hundreds of prayer candles
blanketed one corner of the
cave-shaped sanctuary.
I sat motionlessness through
numerous masses
celebrated in many
different languages.

His cushioned sandals,
customized by Clare
to protect the stigmata
in his bleeding feet,
and his legendary robe,
a patchwork made from
swatches from poor friends,
were encased nearby.

Legend, history,
myth and meaning
flooded my psyche and soul.

I climbed nearby
Mount Sabasio ,
found my little sanctuary
near his prayer cell
in the dense forest
and read Kazantzakis’

As I encountered a man
who kissed a leper,
transcending his greatest fear;
I felt his living soul
pulsating through my soul,
calling me deeply
into the truth
of myself.

Riveted by his overwhelming
austerity, love and clarity,
a simple image
remains more vivid
than all the others.

I hiked up
Assisi’s pinnacle to
the ageless Roca,
an ancient Roman Fortress,
still commanding it’s
impressive citadel.

I sat for a long time,
meditating, waiting, taking in
the energy of daunting, massive walls
surrounding a Roman catapult.
Suddenly, I was visited
by a total surprise.

A beautiful, perfectly formed
small yellow flower
commanded my entire attention.
Unmistakably powerful
and powerless,
I witnessed a flower strong enough
to grow out of a rock!

That, it became clear to see,
was what Francis was all about.
His gentle simplicity
and conscious powerlessness
inflames all our dark fears
with the fires of Love.

Hal Edwards
May 15, 2015