“And the angel said, Have no fear; for truly, I give you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) But that’s another story—a story full of meaning for millions and millions of people, especially at this time of the year.
Here’s a winged St. Francis of Assisi that leaps joyfully on the plaza approach to St. Francis Basilica in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Even though I’ve walked the labyrinth that unfolds only a few feet away from this sculpture, and I’ve photographed the piece more times than I can count, I do not remember ever having searched for information on the sculptor. I have just found on the Internet that the piece is titled St. Francis Dancing on Water and is the work of Monika Kaden, a New Mexico artist. This artist chooses for one of the inscriptions on this work: “I AM NOT ASKING TO BE LOVED I WANT TO LOVE”. These words wash over me and intrigue me.
For some reason I keep coming back to this St. Francis. I am drawn to the labyrinth nearby, and I am compelled to stand close to this sculpture. Lately, it is to practice walking meditation. I could relate to you my understanding of this practice, but I won’t. It doesn’t really matter. Come back to the breath, come back. Breathing in, I have arrived. Breathing out, I am home. Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of teaching young French children in walking meditation to say simply, yes, yes, breathing in, thank you, thank you, breathing out. Oui, oui, merci, merci. I think that says it best.