Worlds of Understanding

to be understood, as to understand;

Graduate school meant reading a lot of books with countless facts and no pictures. Theories everywhere, agreeing and disagreeing on paper; grad students everywhere, agreeing and disagreeing in the flesh. For many of my friends, getting information out of reading and then figuring out how it related to every other piece of information was a trudge across gravel wearing someone else’s stilettos: painful, slow, and designed with someone else in mind.

I loved the reading because I knew the secret: these books were worlds, the best vision of reality that the author could give. Fall through the pages, enter the world, see it as the writer did, and it all makes sense. Non fiction just meant the author believed the story was about the living world. Seeing whole worlds, moving those worlds into alignment – that’s what understanding dusty old textbooks really is. Well written or not, every book and every world a gift.

Each person is a living world, God created and God loved. Through word and action, touch and tone, I am invited into the worlds of everyone I meet. To see a whole new world, moving my world into alignment – that’s what understanding someone is.

to be understood, as to understand…I’m not asking for strength to settle for less: I’m asking God for so much more: a whole new world.

Lord, Make me an instrument of Thy 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; and 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. Amen.

This prayer is attributed to Saint Francis. He was born in 1181 or 1182 into a wealthy family in Assisi, Umbria. He grew up in comfort, turned into a rowdy youth, and eventually looked for glory on the battlefield. His life plan altered when he encountered God. In prayer, he heard God tell him to rebuild the church. He devoted himself to a life of prayer, poverty and service. He is the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), usually called the Franciscans. He died in 1226 after a life of prayer, poverty, and service. His life, work, and words have inspired countless numbers of people.

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