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by Anne Peterson

Having never known quite what to do with the crucifixion, I have chosen to focus more on what Jesus did during his lifetime than on his death and resurrection—and to ponder what the implications for me might be when he urged the disciples to go forth and do likewise in ministry.

Choosing the book Eager to Love: the Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr for my Lenten small group, I was intrigued by the author’s goal to “liberate Francis from the birdbath mentality.”

Such love does
the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand in a field,

I have to wring out the light
when I get

–Saint Francis of Assisi
The joy Francis found in nature, the freedom he found in divesting himself of his worldly goods, his ability to speak to all people—including his seven trips to the Arab world and conversations with the Sultan—draw me to him. And, two years before his death, Francis reportedly received in his body the stigmata—the marks of the five wounds of Christ. The crucifixion is there to be wrestled with. Rohr says, “Identification with suffering might just be non-dual thinking in its most active and proactive form and why nonviolence demands such a high level of transformation.”

Many years ago, at the Santa Barbara Mission, I purchased a nearly-square-shaped, fits-in-the-hand, metal cross with a heart at its center. In my erratic experiences of meditating, I like to hold it with my thumb on the heart and begin with the image of great love pouring down from the sky, such that I might have to wring out the light when I’m done.