It was a very cold night and St. Francis of Assisi was quite ill. His good friend Brother Leo wanted to build a fire and cover Francis with a blanket but he refused. Francis said, “If I cannot bring warmth to so many of my brothers and sisters who are cold, at least I can be cold with them.”
So many of our brothers and sisters remain cold and hungry. We hear of the terrible human suffering in Sierra Leone because of mudslides and out of control cholera in Yemen. Then there is the suffering caused by human hands. Threats of nuclear war with North Korea, violence because of racism and hate in Virginia, terrorist attacks in Spain and Finland. We see the images of innocent people caught in the ravages of other peoples’ disputes. We throw up our hands in frustration because it seems there is nothing we can do.
Remembering St. Francis, there is something we can do. If we cannot bring peace to so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering, at least we can be with them in our thoughts. This will not change their situation but it could change our hearts. Too much bad news can make us numb. Too much terror can make us shut down and stop paying attention. So not only do the atrocities continue, a paralyzed humanity carries on with daily business as if nothing else is happening .
Often when some terrible tragedy happens, in churches, stadiums, concert halls and other venues where the public gathers we take a moment of silence to remember the victims. Learning from St. Francis, every day we could take a moment of silence to remember the victims of the world’s conflicts. That moment of silence could allow us to imagine their faces and the real lives they had. With the silence might come an idea about what we can do to be peacemakers. The silence could bring a calmness out of which we face our lives with new courage. The silence could allow us to hear what God is calling us to be and do in the midst of this troubled world.
Every day, take a moment of silence. Our brothers and sisters who are suffering will not see us, but for a moment, we will have allowed ourselves to see them.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector