Miracles come in moments.
Be ready and willing.
Last Sunday, I opened Facebook and saw a photo of my friend Julie with Wayne Dyer. She said how he had told her that she had a beautiful smile. (She does.) And, as I scrolled down on my phone, more posts about Wayne Dyer, and then I realized he had passed.
I'd heard him speak in San Diego a few years ago, and although I never met him, I kind of feel like I knew him. I'm sure all those PBS specials had something to do with it. I know he has "graduated" and everything, but I still wept, like I was loosing an old friend. I'm not sure how many times I've quoted him on my blog but I know I did a whole post of his quotes! (here)
San Rufino Cathedral, Assisi
He talked and wrote a lot about Saint Francis and in fact I remember taping one of his talks many years ago and him saying the Prayer of Saint Francis, and I sat rewinding it and writing it down. (It must have been before Google!)
I know Dyer had a strong connection to Francis so it seemed appropriate to post photos from my various trips to Assisi. I didn't grow up Catholic so I didn't grow up with any real knowledge of the Saint except for garden statues and something about him protecting animals.
Then, in my 30s, I had a series of synchronicities that led me to want to know more about Francis of Assisi. Wayne Dyer played a part in the beginning of that journey, with his talks, and I'm so grateful.
Assisi, steps from the Basilica of San Francesco
My uncle used to wear a wooden "T" or tau cross and he told me it was the cross of Saint Francis. He and my aunt had been to Assisi and had loved it, and then my parents went there and brought back a little silver Saint Francis metal for me.
One morning, probably 9 years ago, while house and dog sitting in Ojai, I was sleeping on my sister's bed. I had opened the sliding glass door to let the dog out and while lying there, I played with the silver little charm of the Saint around my neck. I thought of Francis and how he was so often shown with birds ... and then I thought how funny it would be if a bird flew in the open door.
View of Assisi from the Hotel Palotta
I fell back asleep for a while and when I woke up, started cleaning up the kitchen and straightening the house, then began packing up my things to head back to Los Angeles.
But then I heard something.
I couldn't quite figure out where it was coming from. It was a rustling sound. Finally, I looked behind a dining room chair to find a little bird with grey wings and yellow chest, trying to find his way out! I picked him up in a little hand towel and brought him outside onto the picnic table. We both sat there for a long time. I am not sure who was more stunned.
View of the Basilica of Saint Claire from the Rocca Maggiore
I knew I needed to be on my way to L.A. shortly, but was worried to leave him, since my sister had a cat at the time. I explain that I need to leave (yes, I was talking to the little bird) and that I would hide him up in the bushes, while I loaded the car. If he was still there when I returned, I would take him to a bird rescue.
Sure enough, after I loaded the car I went back to the hiding spot and he was gone.
Medieval streets of Assisi
After going home to L.A. I ordered a biography of Saint Francis. It was fascinating (if dense) and covered a lot about the middle ages and his life in what is now Italy ... how his father was a fairly wealthy textile merchant, and how he had wanted to be a knight, in his youth.
While reading his biography one night, I heard a crazy noise coming from outside my front door. I live on the second floor and there is a stairway and landing. When I opened the front door, I found a pigeon had come in and wasn't able to find his way back out! I ran in and grabbed a hand towel, threw it over the bird.
I carried him out in front of my building, and standing there in my blue and white floral pajamas, opened the towel and watched him as he flew away, out of my hands and into the night sky. I have lived in the same building for 18 years and a bird had never come into the landing area before ... or since.
Olive grove near San Damiano
I wept through the end of the biography, as a knight on horseback carried the frail and dying Francis, back to Assisi, where he died, just outside the Porziuncola that he built. I could in vision it all as I read the story, as if it were a memory. If there was ever a doubt I would be traveling to Assisi, it had vanished. I went just before my 40th birthday.
A couple of months after my first visit to Assisi, I was sick in the hospital and I would walk the streets of Assisi, in my mind, and look up and see a little niche in the side of an old stone house, where Francis looked down and watched over the passers by. It was all so vivid in my mind and I felt like I could remember every detail. I've returned twice since then, and love it beyond what I can express in words.
Though the "Prayer of Saint Francis" was not actually penned by Francis, (it showed up anonymously for the first time in a small French Catholic publication in 1912) I think it speaks so much of the spirit of him. Below, a version by the beautiful Sarah McLachlan.
More beautiful Assisi ...
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva on Piazza Commune
The road to Eremo Carceri
Remain humble and grateful for all your accomplishment,
and know that a force greater than your ego
is always at work in your life.
~Dr, Wayne W. Dyer
View from Basilica of Saint Claire up to the Rocca Maggiore fortress
The Rocca Maggiore (first documented back to 1173)
Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal.
Live this day as if it were your last.
The past is over and gone.
The future is now guaranteed.
Saint Claire at San Damiano
Wayne Dyer, on visiting the Porziuncola chapel in Lower Assisi, from his blog
"I was escorted into the tiny chapel which once was the spiritual meditative home of Saint Francis. I sat down to meditate in this sacred place, and immediately felt bliss and unconditional love entering my energy field. I returned a second day to visit again and confirm how powerful the experience had been and to be certain that it wasn’t just my expectations at work in that chapel. The room radiated unconditional love. It was in the air, so to speak. This little chapel, inside the outer chamber surrounding it, seemed a metaphor for ourselves. Our body is the outer protective chamber. But deep inside that chamber is a place of perfect harmony and peace, a place to visit often and feel the radiance that abides there.
Here in Lower Assisi is a place where Saint Francis made conscious contact with God, and a place where millions of people have come with love and gratitude to be in the imprint of his energy field. This kind of energy leaves its mark. It remains there to be felt and experienced. Loving radiant energy joyously impacts the energy field of all who enter. In places where spiritual consciousness and unconditional love are practiced, an invisible energy field of grace, beauty, and tenderness remains in the environment."
Sweet fresco on the street, of Francis, Claire and Mother Mary