Today is National Public Lands Day

Today is National Public Lands Day and it provides a good occasion to learn more about our National Park system and public lands in general. And to learn what volunteer opportunities there are to preserve and improve America’s public lands.

If you’d like to do any of that, this link would be a pretty good place to start.

The current administration seems to be pulling in the opposite direction. This is not a good thing. Not at all.

If you’d like to take a look at that issue, just follow this link.

We here at the FSF advocate for wise and compassionate stewardship of our Public Lands and feel some urgency about doing what we can to spread the word about this important occasion.

Happy National Public Lands Day to all of you today. May we do all we can to keep our Country’s parks and public lands some of the best on the planet and pass this wonderful legacy on to the generations to come.

Brother Ben

Neither Ben nor the FSF own this photo. We believe it to be covered under
the Fair Use Doctrine.

Hear me, Oh Lord

This passage from Psalm 69, though written about 2,000 years ago, can nevertheless be instructive for us today:

16 Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.

17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble; Hear me speedily.

18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.

I’m certain that this passage strikes a cord with just about everyone. Psalm 69 is a well-known and beloved one.

I certainly can relate.

Having said that, I hasten to add that as we read this passage with our thoroughly-modern eyes, many of us would have some thoughts about how we often set ourselves up for misery and troubles.

We may meditate on the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships and keeping out of situations where our actions have created chaos and difficulties where Divine intervention seems our only way out.

And it’s also true that when we’re in tight spot and our problems seem beyond our abilities to deal with them, we’ll appeal to God to intervene and set our feet back on solid ground, so to speak.

And we’ll do that whether our troubles truly come from circumstances beyond our control or–as is often the case–our own decisions and actions have led to our predicament.

Plead for Divine help when you’re in a tight spot.

And be sure to also examine your choices and your deeds and take life’s inevitable troubles as opportunities to become better at keeping yourself out of misery, despondence and despair.

 

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Seventy Times Seven

Just about everyone on this planet understands how vitally important relationships are.

It’s a universal thing. It spans all cultures and has been understood since the time our species first appeared on the scene.

But it’s also true that understanding this and living it are two different things.

I was listening to two close friends this week talk about how some difficult scenarios have played out in their relationships–their family relationships, in particular–and how it’s affected them. And other family members as well.

It reminded me of some very similar times and similar issues in my own life.

And it reminded me that in our relationships–whether things are going well, or not–forgiveness is always the best way to go.

It’s not always easy; not at all.

It may not always be clear how we can even get to that place of forgiving.

But we must always try.

I am not so naive as to say that forgiveness is always possible.

But we must try. Forgiveness should be our lodestar, our goal.

And then we leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

More Troubling Signs for the Earth

Climate Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years about how the Earth is warming and how big changes are on the way for all of us.

The signs that our planet is changing–and changing very fast–are so numerous that it’s hard to know what to focus on.

But we should not allow that to keep us from getting and staying engaged and advocating for policies and actions to mitigate the damage we are inflicting upon our beleaguered planet.

In an article that appeared in June, writer Jordan Davidson lays out for concerned readers some of the alarming signs that the melting of ice around Greenland is a very big deal and is–most troubling of all–accelerating at a rapid pace.

Davidson followed up with another piece yesterday which focuses on one of the more urgent aspects of this whole matter of melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

Scientists, researchers and policy wonks have been warning all who will listen that we need to be prepared to move away from the coastal regions of our planet as the phenomenon of rising sea levels proceeds.

And to this observer, it appears that not too many people are listening to those warnings.

Mr. Davidson’s article makes a fine entry point for anyone who’d like to take a closer look at these issues. It focuses closely on the melting of ice around Greenland, the Helheim Glacier in particular. The piece is very timely and not overly-wonky and can be read here.

Highlighting the urgent need to care for the Earth in a serious and compassionate way lies at the very heart of what The Fellowship of St Francis is all about.

So many are doing this work of watching for the signs, for the evidence, that our planet is struggling, is being seriously degraded.

Keep listening. Stay engaged. Stay engaged and take action!

The plight of the Earth demands nothing less.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Feast of St Lawrence

If you’ve taken more than a cursory look at our site, you’ve no doubt noticed that we claim St Francis as an icon and a patron for our nascent spiritual movement.

The Saint I venerate most after St Francis is St Lawrence. And today, August 10th, is the day we commemorate St Lawrence each year.

As is so often the case, there is not too much we know about his life that is backed up with solid evidence. Nevertheless, the pious legend that surrounds Lawrence is quite remarkable.

I claim him as a patron and guide and see his life–and, of course, his death–as a reminder to keep the emphasis on people and not on material things.

I also desire to emulate his fearlessness in the face of hatred and opposition to spiritual values. In his day, the struggle was against a completely corrupt and wealth-worshiping culture personified by the Roman Emperor Valerian.

It’s certainly true that both St Francis and St Lawrence are exemplary role models for people of Faith and all people of good will who desire to live life in a compassionate way and to reject the contemporary trend of throwing away our time-honored values to chase wealth, power and fame instead.

St Lawrence, whom we remember today, is a fine and suitable icon for those who will not bow down to the Idols of Wealth and Power.

His life and his unwavering commitment to put people above things–the least of these among us, especially–is a reminder to those who desire to live lives of compassion and engage in the work of ministry to keep the emphasis where it belongs.

On serving God’s people and embracing all of God’s creation in a compassionate, heart-felt and sacrificial way.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Is Anyone Listening?

Even though 2000 years have passed since the Psalmist wrote these words, their relevance is not lost on us today:

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

Psalm 88:1-2

In the thoroughly-Evangelical church environment in which I was raised, there was a lot of emphasis put on seeing God, seeing Jesus, especially, as an ever-present friend, one who “sticks closer than a brother” and that feeling is one that stays with me today.

I have never lost that feeling of certainty that one of God’s attributes is that he/she is that loving and abiding presence upon which I can rely.

It’s also true that having friends who are able and willing to be there for us–to truly listen to us in our time of need–can be a great comfort and an immense help in getting through life’s inevitable ups-and-downs.

Are you willing to be God’s ears today to a friend who may need that presence?

Are you willing to be God’s hands and touch someone whose well-being and whose very survival may depend on finding that loving and supportive touch, that Divine Presence?

Listening to one another is a good start.

May you–may we all–be God’s ears and hands today.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.