Starting around the time of the Japanese earthquake & tsunami I frequently found myself feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of suffering due to natural disasters – flooding in New Zealand and droughts in Australia in addition to the Japanese disasters. I wanted so much to do something, but felt any gesture on my part would be such a tiny drop in the bucket of needs that it hardly seemed worth doing. And then one day as I was going through these feelings of discouragement and sadness a line popped into my head “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” I knew it was a line from a prayer I’d heard in church back in my childhood, but didn’t know what prayer or how the rest of it went. But I would say that first line whenever I was feeling powerless and overwhelmed. I mentioned this to a friend who immediate said, “you know what prayer that comes from”. I had to say “no, I don’t?” He then told me it was the prayer of Saint Francis and emailed me a link to the full prayer. He also told me that Saint Francis had been something of a Christian Shaman – all I knew about him was being the patron saint of animals. So I decided I should heed the message and learn more about Saint Francis.
I must say this book is exceptionally well written and relates a fascinating story – I found it hard to put down. The author really gives you a feeling for the time that St. Francis lived in, as well as showing how Francis’ character was shaped as a young man. I learned so much about the Middle Ages and the Crusades and how they influenced St Francis. Whatever your religious beliefs, this man truly was saintly and I found great inspiration in reading his personal history.