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Epistles: Poems Paperback – October 1, 2007
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But even the divine Francis faced a late test that plagued his life of service and devotion. He feared lepers. He found them repulsive, disgusting, horrific. Seeing one on the road or in the village, he'd literally turn and run away like a hysterical child. This uncontrollable fear almost led to Francis renouncing his vows and leaving the monastery. How could he do God's work when he couldn't even do the work of a simple, compassionate man?
Francis's spiritual struggle was terrific. We know he succeeded (we need only check a few gardens to be assured of that), but how? Walking down a lane one day, Francis met up with his worst nightmare. A horribly disfigured leper burst out of the hedge and onto the road directly in Francis's path. The men stopped, facing each other. A moment later, Francis threw his arms around the leper and kissed him on the mouth. A signature moment, a St. Francis moment.
This is a beautiful, inspiring resolution, but we can only wonder about Francis's years of struggle before he spiritually broke through.
Mark Jarman's new book of poetry consists of 30 letters to God, to believers and non-believers, to familiars, and to himself that give us the marvelous experience of living and working through just such a struggle.Read more ›