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abarefootwalkYesterday afternoon I was in a gathering where we were discussing change using a number of quotes on the subject. It was fascinating to hear the different reactions to the various quotes depending on our interpretations of how the words were used in the sentences, or how a little word like “all” could challenge someone who is uncomfortable with such determinism. It was a great, stretching conversation that pointed up the need to really listen to the voices of others who differed according to culture and life experiences. etc. when interpreting what was being said.

It’s only 7:00AM and there are all sorts of vehicles – mostly big trucks – outside on our road with a large team working hard to get the road paved before the weather turns cold. They have already done days of preparation for this final process; they’re not just patching or putting down a thin coat this time. This will be an “extreme makeover” that is very welcome! But today is also the feast of St. Francis, the “little man of Assisi,” who was the champion of all things natural, i.e. those found in nature. Thinking of him makes me long for dirt roads and good walking shoes (or strong bare feet!) rather than all sorts of manufactured materials that are not good for the environment.

So while I think of our road I’m also thrown back to the vision of flooding in Houston, a city that has so much concrete in roads, building sites and parking lots that the rain had nowhere to go so that at least some of it might sink into the earth. I’m certainly not blaming the infrastructure for the 50+ inches of rain sitting in and flowing through the neighborhoods, but it was at least a mention on the news as a factor adding to the destruction and might be something to consider as cities continue to grow.

In an interview on NBC news following the devastating attack in Las Vegas this weekend, a man who was shot three times in his leg spoke of his experience. He said that two women, seeing his inability to stand, pulled him to a place of cover and then commanded two men to move him further into a truck where 7 others were already waiting to be taken to a hospital. He said, “I didn’t know any of those people. No one was looking at anyone in any particular way, judging anything. Everyone just kept helping, doing what they could for anyone they encountered.” We are our best in the worst situations, it seems.

What does all this mean? How do the thoughts fit together? Maybe they don’t really but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that there is a thread here, albeit a thin one. Or maybe it is as elemental as the opening line of the Prayer of St. Francis which says, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” On second thought, maybe that whole prayer is perfect for today as we try to move forward from violence and appreciate what is natural in our world. For those who don’t know it by heart let me print it here as our offering for peace and healing. Please join with me in praying it aloud.

Lord, make me an instrument of your 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; 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. Amen.