Mark is one of those rare people with the rarest of gifts. He is not simply a dog whisperer, the super nanny, or the pied piper. He is a gentle soul to whom all living things are drawn. Animals know he will respond to them and so they listen. He takes special care of the weakest and treats every human being and any living thing with dignity. He never looks beyond another, nor does he love others for what he can achieve from the relationship. He is an easy and ready companion, bringing laughter and music to everyone he encounters. I just spent five days at our House of Bishops meeting and found no one who is as gifted and blessed as he is. He can be overlooked by self-aggrandizing people, but anyone who has a real heart is drawn to him.
I am married to a modern day St. Francis. As with the original St. Francis, his gentle loving kindness propels others to follow his example. He never puts his own needs first, but listens daily to the cries of creation around him. His quiet nature and care for others means he rarely gets the recognition or the thanks for all the hard and loving things he does for others.
I am so fortunate. If there is someone like him in your life, I hope today you will remember to thank that person for taking you just as you are, for listening to your heart, and for caring for your simple needs with great pleasure. Saints don't come our way often, but when they do, they are messengers from God who help us remember that we are loved and part of a larger family of God. The God who creates and welcomes all of life as a rare gift and a lifetime friend.
A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.