St. Francis, the stalwart courtyard statue

St. Francis, the stalwart courtyard statue

May 12, 2020 | By Jen Higgins-Newman, BHFH Program Manager

One of the peculiar things about the Friends House (of which I am sure there are many), is that we have a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi in our courtyard. 

The statue has been here longer than we have been a Quaker community — it was part of the collection of the original owners of the house (the Greene family).  

St. Francis and I have crossed paths before. I attended a retreat a few years ago at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, Pennsylvania, where I was introduced to St. Francis’s prayer of peace.

Lord, make us an instrument of Your peace;
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is error, truth; 
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 we 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. 

– St. Francis

The prayer resonated with me more than I thought it would. 

When I read this prayer, here is what I learn: 

First, we must notice where things are not right, to listen for the discord, and sow its opposite. This word “sow” is key — we can lay the seeds for these things but it is not our ability to grow them. 

Second, we must be active participants in cultivating the peaceful community that we want. To seek not just for our own comfort, but to notice where there is need (and where we have capacity) and give. 

Third, that we are not a closed system of ourselves, but intricately tied to one another (oh, how I’m feeling that reality now more than ever). 

When I see our friend St. Francis in our courtyard, I am reminded of this prayer, and of the importance of peace as a central part of what I am called to cultivate. In addition to tending the garden around him, we must tend to peace through sowing love, pardon, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy.

I’m happy to have this friend with us. 

In Light and community,
Jen

P.S. Do you know more about this statue? Have a story to share related to it? Let us know by replying to this email!