Viterbo University campus in La Crosse is the home of "Dancing Francis" statue. This statue depicts a radiantly joyful Francis lifting his arms high in praise of our Creator.
It symbolizes for me what my life as a Franciscan is all about -- that all I am and have and experience is a gift from a tremendously loving God!
In my years as a pastoral associate, I have journeyed with many people who have lost loved ones or who are facing death due to cancer. What has touched my heart over and over is the hope they all have -- the hope that may bring a smile to their faces even in the worst circumstances. I believe Francis had that kind of hope -- always knowing of God's constant care for him.
Music has been part of my life since I was 7 years old when I began to learn to play the piano. Music was special to Francis, too. I'm sure he heard God's voice in every melody -- the songs of the birds, the whispers of the wind in the trees, the splashing of waves on shorelines, the voices of men, women and children raised in prayer, song and laughter. With all the beauty and goodness around each of us "how can we keep from singing" and praising our God as Francis did?
Francis valued life and treasured every moment of every day. I find this gift of Francis to be the most meaningful to me at this time in my life -- the gift to celebrate life as it comes to me every day. I pray that, with God's grace, I may continue to share that gift with all those I meet.