What is Love, anyway?

Once two close friends were talking about things of great importance. Many things.

After a while, one of them turned to the other and asked, “what is love, anyway?”

And the other replied, “I can’t give you a definition, but I know it when I see it!”

I have to say that that time-honored saying has the ring of truth all about it. It certainly resonates with me.

Well, I saw it today. Or perhaps I should say I recognized love clearly a few minutes ago when I read this in a post on social media from a friend who just went through a very serious surgery:

“My Home Care nurse is a sweet Jamaican women, who massages my feet with lotion, while singing Jesus Loves Me!”

Yeah, that’s love!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Cold Monster Cometh

Back on Monday night I started to feel it. That funny tickle you get in your throat when the cold monster begins to stalk you.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I knew that it was for real and that I was in for another three days of total misery.

You know the drill: feelin’ like you’re gonna die and afraid you might not!

At times in those first 18 hours, it seemed like it might not be all that bad. But in the end is was a rough one. The fever, chills and delirium lasted for the better part of Wednesday.

I’m much better now four days in and grateful that I was able to move around work commitments and all of that. Still lots of coughing and so on. Been here before.

Because of my severe allergies, I have been through this scenario many times.

I’d love it if this were the last one but I know it’s not. So what I’m focusing on–other than the usual prevention strategies–is to do what works in any of life’s difficult or unpleasant situations: use the tools in my tool bag and ask for help.

I have more OTC cold preparations than CVS and several of my friends showed their caring and support in many ways.

That made a three day knot of misery almost bearable.

Helping to keep the FSF moving forward and my blogging in general were a couple of things that were placed on hold for the last 3 1/2 days.

I’m delighted to be out of that nasty, cold-induced funk and ready to be productive again.

Brother Ben

What does the EPA do?

If you’re a part of this movement or if you’ve taken a few minutes to check us out here at FSFtoday.org, you know that environmental issues are right at the heart of our ministry.

If you care about our planet, no doubt you’ve made sure that the way you go about living your life reflects that attitude of caring. Caring about the Earth on which we all depend.

No doubt you also think that public policy should be made and be carried out in ways that favor the Earth. Ways that, if they don’t actually help our planet, would at least not harm it.

Well, if you feel that way, you’d definitely be at odds with the way our policies about the environment are being made and being carried out right now.

If you’d read this far, some thought relating to the EPA most likely has popped into your head.

And yes, how the EPA goes about its business is a very big deal.

If you’re not quite sure what the EPA does or whether its work actually matters, this article from Nat Geo would be a big help.

It’s a fairly quick read. I recommend it highly.

Public policy matters. It matters a lot.

It’s time to step up our game. The welfare of our Planet and the survival of our species depend on us and what we do. Our elected officials are not only not helping, they’re making it harder for concerned citizens and Earth defenders to do anything.

The sad truth is that this will not change unless we force those in power to make the changes.

Brother Ben

What Will You Do Today?

Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering.” ~ Dalai Lama

I have a piece of kindergarten handwriting paper taped to the wall where my kitchen table sits.  Written on it is a question that I ask my children and myself every morning as we are eating our breakfast.  The question? What can we do TODAY to make the world a better place and reduce the suffering of others? Each of us without caring who gets the credit…”

The answers that most frequently pop out of their mouths are “Hug someone.”, “Tell someone that you love them.”, “Talk to a person who looks sad.”, “Share my lunch with a friend.”,“ Color a picture for the neighbor.” Their answers are not any grand gesture like volunteering at the homeless shelter or donating a bunch of money to charity. They are small things that each of us can do every day. And these seemingly small acts of kindness are at the very heart of what it means to live a life of compassion.

Compassion’s only requirement is that you take action to reduce the suffering of another. And no matter how small that action may feel… know that its ripples are expansive and infinite.

So what about you? What will YOU do today to make the world a better place and reduce the suffering of others?

Big hugs.

-Stacey ❤

We’re being so Courteous Today!

Yes, we are! It is National Common Courtesy Day, you know! So I wanted to put up this quick post and invite my vast readership to be really, really courteous! All day!

What?! You’re already doing that, 365 days a year?

Me, too!

So, here’s my fall-back plan: if you see anyone acting discourteously today, kindly tell them what day it is, ask them to forego being all mean and stuff and let them know they’re all-good to begin acting the fool again effective tomorrow!

Just make sure you do so in a very, very courteous way!

Your paragon of total courtesy, I am,

brother ben

The Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;  

O Divine Master,
Grant that I 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.  

Prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi

The Legacy of St Francis

Yes, it is St Francis of Assisi who was chosen to be front-and-center for this new ministry.

Yes, that St Francis.

There are two great urgencies that are at the heart of what the FSF is about.

The first is to make compassion the foundation for all that we do, for all our interactions with our fellows.

And the second is use to treat the Earth, our common home, with wisdom and that same compassion. And to extend this compassion to all of Earth’s inhabitants, not just to the Human species.

With these two urgent priorities in mind, Saint Francis was a most suitable choice as the icon and a wise, compassionate patron for the Fellowship. He was a much-beloved figure in his time.

Francis’ love for animals and for the Earth were noted by his contemporaries and by the leadership of the Church in the 13th Century and are the reasons that he is considered to be a special patron for animals and for the environment.

So it is very fitting to have this well-loved and venerated figure to lead the way, so to speak, for our fledgling Fellowship.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Fellowship of St Francis is a new and completely independent ministry and is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Everything has a beginning

First Day of Spring, 2019

On this day that the FSF becomes fully real–according to the law and regulations of the State of Florida, I mean–it’s a good thing to explain a bit more of the “back story” about the origins of our Fellowship.

To begin this new work has been my vision for the last ten years. But it never seemed like the right time, or that the right elements were in place for it to succeed.

Like Moses in the story found in the third chapter of Exodus, I could think of a hundred reasons why trying to launch a new ministry–especially one that is not in the mold of your typical Church or Fellowship–was a foolish idea. One most certainly doomed to failure.

By the way, I’m not at all trying to say I’m a Moses-like leader; I’m merely saying that the task seemed impossible to me and that my behavior for quite a few years was governed by that reluctance.

And then, around Valentine’s Day, something happened that–although extremely traumatic to me at the time–helped me to see clearly that it was time for me to re-prioritize, let fall away things that were clearly not essential, and really address that meaning-and-purpose stuff that many of us often go to great lengths to avoid.

Well, I certainly had gone to extreme lengths to avoid doing something about beginning a new ministry or Fellowship, even though I had known for years that it was a huge, unfinished task for me.

Not unfinished. Never-begun would be a better way to say that.

And so I ended the foot-dragging. Twelve days ago I completed the necessary docs on-line to make it official and real, coughed up the required fees and got this Fellowship started.

My two fellow-directors and I agreed that today–being the first day of spring–was a very suitable effective date for our enterprise.

Without making too big a deal out of my personal feelings and reactions to getting the FSF started, let me just say that I’ve slept more soundly in the last 12 days than I have in many, many years.

Dragging one’s feet on those meaning-and-purpose issues is never a good thing.

The Fellowship of St Francis is real. And that fills me with joy!

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Co-existing with Wildlife

If you’re wondering how to co-exist with wildlife in a humane way, getting some tips from professionals would most certainly be a good thing.

The information found on this site could be very helpful. Especially if you live in a rural area or even if you have more than a few trees around your home in a mostly suburban location.

There are so many helpful tips on the site for small-ish critters, up to and including deer.

In the part of Florida where I live, bears love to raid trash cans and climb trees in sometimes large and up-scale neighborhoods. It’s become a pretty common thing.

Many people believe that this situation is one reason why the State of Florida green-lighted bear hunting again back in 2015. The hunting resumed the following year.

I am against bear hunting under any conditions but the article accessible from the above link shows that the new regulations here in Florida are very seriously flawed even if you were in favor of the resumption.

If people who live near bear habitats were more bear-savvy, this unfortunate situation could possibly be improved. For tips on co-existing with bears specifically, follow this link.

Brother Ben