From a more positive way of thinking about God and creation, we can see the world from a different consciousness. Franciscans do not split the world into that which is profane and that which is holy, but can see God in the dirt and the worms, in the suffering of life, and in the outcast.
David MIlliken is a Third Order Franciscan in the Episcopal Church with certifications in labyrinth facilitation, nature contemplation, and meditation. Tamara Milliken is a Companion in the Society of St. Francis and an advanced level yoga instructor and herbalist.
The Franciscan way of seeing moves us away from dividing up the world in the good and the bad which, as Sr. Ilia Delio says, is “always capable of identifying God’s absence, but rarely consistent in affirming God’s presence in everything that is.” Francis was able to see God imbedded in a marvelously interconnected world with God as the source of each and every thing. He saw the world in universal kinship, with the moon, the water, and the birds as his sisters and the sun and the wolf as his brothers.
The Franciscan way of viewing God in history has been a theology that was always orthodox with other parts of Christian theology and yet, at the same time, featuring a different set of emphases. Whereas Christianity has often overemphasized “the stain of original sin,” St. Francis and Franciscan theologians lived, preached and wrote about the many ways that creation is good and the life we have been given is a joyous opportunity. That is the Good News of the gospels!
The Franciscan emphasis on the goodness of God and creation has many ramifications. Creation is the outpouring of God’s love into the universe. Creation reveals to us God’s love for us and God’s beauty, which is why Franciscans call creation “the mirror of God”. Additionally, the faith in a good God has implications for our stumbling world. The Word of God became incarnate not because the world is full of sin, but in order to transform the world into a communion of love centered in Christ. Franciscan John Duns Scotus (c. 1266 – 1308) wrote that the Incarnation was part of the plan all along, with creation a prelude to much fuller manifestation of divine goodness in the Incarnation. We are all partakers of this transformation!
Franciscans are a Christian religious order founded by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi in the 13th century. Originally Catholic, the Franciscan path has since become an approved order within the Episcopal, Lutheran and ecumenical churches. Simply put, Franciscans commit to a structured Rule of Life with a focus on living simply and caring for those on the margins as Christ. They take seriously Jesus' call to "follow me".
Broadly, the Franciscan way of life flows from knowing that all of creation is the place to encounter God. Concrete manifestations involve living more simply on the earth and expanding our engagement and connection with all of Creation in order truly experience and savor God’s gift of life.
The things of this world are God-like just as they are and reveal God to us in their specificity. Therefore, to deepen our relationship with God we need regular, attentive contact with the world in its simple, humble state. We can lay aside the anxious search for lofty things and prestigious people that we mistakenly believe will make us happy. The world is full of signs of God’s presence here and now, with God telling us what we need to hear through the bits and pieces we encounter in a day. In an ongoing way we are invited to live into our own beautiful creation with humility, love and joy.