The Heart of Spirituality – Part 1

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The Great Love, All That Is Good Is Abundantly Present When We Are Heartfully Present

By Bruce Davis, Ph.D.

Author of The Love Letters: Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi Meet Pope Francis

heartshinySeemingly a day does not pass by when there is not a new quote or an act of humility from Pope Francis. Recently he advises all that “we know God by having an open mind.” “Each of us,” he says, “must look into our hearts.” Then a few days later it is announced Pope Francis is going to wash the feet of handicapped people during Easter week. I think a Pope rarely leaves the Vatican during the Holy Days of Easter, no less washes the feet of the least fortunate amongst us. Truly Pope Francis is bringing alive the spirit and life of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis, the medieval saint from the 12th century is being remembered for his love of nature and his humility and concern for everyone–no matter what is their walk in life, particularly the very poor. If we look deeper, we will also see Pope Francis practicing the inner path which brought St. Francis of Assisi to so much joy. Pope Francis can illuminate these practices as well as clear up misunderstandings. There has been too much self-denial and sacrifice embedded in religion for too long and for too many.

Those who have been fortunate to live in Italy and follow the footsteps of St. Francis realize he is the saint for nature, the poor and a lot more. Most people don’t know that St. Francis spent a good part of his short life living simply on mountain tops all over central Italy. His many days and long nights were spent in the big silence, contemplating all elements of life. Nature in all its beauty, the sky in its wonder, and his own nakedness stood out nearly every moment. This time alone in silence guided him to a profound peace within himself. He would spend days and weeks alone on many mountaintops instructing his dear brother Leo to keep all humans away. His time alone in the perfect stillness was sacred. This time was about simply being and much more. It was time without distraction. St. Francis would venture deep into the great vastness of his heart. Loneliness and everything human was present, but time and time again, it all fell aside to something greater. St. Francis found a great vastness of God. A perfect peace was found inside the midst of the peace and quiet of the mountaintop.

Today Pope Francis, the Dali Lama and spiritual leaders of many faiths are practicing a similar path of spending much time sitting in profound stillness, the deep quiet of the heart. They begin each morning, taking time to be and listen to the depths of the inner stillness. This is the source of their openness, humility, wisdom, humor and compassion.

St. Francis battled his ill body, his desires and his feelings on his journey into the vastness of God. Pope Francis, the Dali Lama, and spiritual leaders today have learned the battle is not necessary. The middle road of taking time to listen and receive the silence of the heart is a true path. There is no need to punish ourselves. At the end of his life, St. Francis asked brother body to forgive him for being so hard and unforgiving towards what is also a gift from God, his body and all his humanness.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Bruce Davis Ph.D. is the author of The Love Letters: Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi Meet Pope Francis, a charming, soaring fictional and spiritual dialogue with a deeper purpose: a discourse on whether Pope Francis can truly return the church to the saints’ ideal-a humble, compassionate, uplifting embrace of the world’s poor and the heart in everyone. This tender tome–that bespeaks the deep love of God, Man and Nature from every page–purports to be letters between the two saints as they discover to their delight that a new Bishop of Rome has arrived carrying forth their ideals. Can he succeed, truly bringing about the radical change that’s necessary and end two millenniums of pomp and circumstance, returning the church to its spiritual essence of simplicity and compassion? For more information, go to: