Before my father died, he gave me a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi. It's a dark painting both in essence and color, with only the light revealing half of St. Francis' face, the skull, and outlines of the monk's robe. My father found this artwork behind construction paper in the office of a Jesuit nun who was living at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She did not like looking at [the essence of darkness] and so, she covered it; when it was discovered by my father, she gave it very willingly to him. It hung in my parents' home for years and years, and the contemplation of St. Francis on another saint's skull always fascinated me because I was always taught to fear death in the Christian faith.
Moving into a new home isn't something I do often and I say that with a lot of trepidation, so I've been pausing on where to hang St. Francis - if at all - here on my new walls. But The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi crossed my path a few days ago rewritten by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and it moved me from fear and loss back into a place I can thrive from again:
THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
(with additions from Lama Zopa Rinpoche in brackets)
Lord [Buddha], make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Where there is darkness, light.
O divine master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled [happiness for the ego] 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;
It is in dying [having practiced] that we are born to eternal life [from happiness to happiness up to full enlightenment].
May all beings effortlessly attain the transcendent blissful state of omniscient Buddhahood.