Jewish Prayer for St. Francis

Written for the Twenty Year Commemoration
of World Day of Prayer for Peace
Convened in Assisi by Pope John Paul II
October 27, 1986

From his big bulky pockets
he gave away everything he owned
they laughed at him
before he found his purpose.
He prayed for that —
a sense of purpose.
Go and repair My house
he heard
it is falling into ruins.
He sat with the lepers
changing their bandages
one by one.
He gave everything away.
He had what everybody wanted
— nothing.
He had nothing
and it was the very thing everyone needed.

The Kingdom of Heaven is upon us
he heard.
He began to preach repentance
(there were eleven of them within a year).
Clare heard him in Asissi and joined him too.
The little brothers walked the mountains around Umbria,

that’s where I saw them.
Just outside Spello
we were sitting with Francesca by her
grove of olive trees.
She pointed up at the mountains behind Asissi.
I had just told her about the Sabbath Bride
a Queen we welcome on Friday night
who brings the quiet presence of G*dliness.
She comes looking for us
every Sabbath when the sun goes down

yes, Francesca said, it’s like San Francesco
I see him walking there in the evening

Francesca pointed toward the mountains behind Assisi,
look — there are his goats.
It was just the time when he appears
between the suns.

We were gazing up towards the mountains
as the sun began to find its way home in the west
I told her about the Jewish legend that in every generation
there are thirty six righteous persons
who sustain the world.
They are anonymous
hidden even
we look for them everywhere —
without them the world cannot endure.

Where are they when we need them. . .

said Francesca.

The righteous. . .I said
we yearn for them to be manifest
but they are hidden —

Like San Francesco, she said,
and she cocked her head toward the mountains
while the sun went down
we sat, waiting.

jsg, usa