Brother Ash, Sister Flight

Recently I have been thinking about the movie, Brother Sun, Sister Moon. It is in my Netflix queue, but I keep pushing it to let other things in. It may be time for me to watch it now that I have it on my mind so much. I saw it a long time ago; I wonder what I will think of it now.

For those who are not familiar with this film, it is the story of St. Francis. The name is taken from a canticle of Francis‘ of that same name. If you know me, you know I love me some St. Francis. He is one of my heroes and a truly transformational person, a real agent of God.

Lately I have also been considering post-modern life and its impact on spirituality and faith. How can the post-modern condition and faith be reconciled? It seems at one level impossible and then again, quite possible. This has caused me to pull down a favorite book from the shelf, Meeting Mystery by Nathan Mitchell. Mitchell is writing about sacraments and liturgy, but very much framed in our post-modern times.

Then  I happened to read one of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations entitled, “How Much Time Do I Spend Connected to Nature?” Rohr refers to Francis’ ability to connect with nature in a particular way, which is made clear in the link to Rohr. To St. Francis, he had a “brother” this and a “sister” that for almost everything. He called his own body “brother ass,” referring to how harshly he treated it.

All this led me to consider the contemporary plight of stranded travelers due to the plume of volcanic ash from Iceland. It is quite a reminder of the old theme of literature, man vs. nature… Guess who wins. We love to feel so master-of-the-universe-y by creating technology that can do pretty much anything in pretty much the face of everything.

But we can’t fly through the cloud. And who knows how long this will last? Or even if it ends, when it will happen again?

I am also aware of how much St. Francis’ was in touch with nature. In our postmodern world we like to think about nature a lot, but perhaps more as a commodity, rather than in what it is, which we are a part of.

Brother Ash. Sister Flight. How they struggle with one another in these days.

I imagine myself stranded somewhere, like maybe Paris. Part of that seems good enough, I mean, there are worse places to be stranded! On the other hand, life goes on and work must be attended to, bills paid and so forth. Not to mention, floating the expense of the Parisian extension. Airline vouchers only go so far.

This is no apocalyptic warning, this is no call to admonish our modern ways. It is just a moment to consider our contemporary plight.

We can’t control everything, even if it seems we can. In the nexus of can/can’t there is a space that I think is most revealing. While I find it hard to articulate just what I see there, I am called to spend some time in that space. 

I think some people may think I have lost my mind. I just wonder if at last, I haven’t found it.

It seems to me that God does not call us to be Luddites, but rather calls us to be who we are in the world that we have around us. That may invite us to some, pardon the irresistible pun, deus ex machina moment, who knows.

(That last line was completely unnecessary wasn’t it?)