“While I was in sin it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord brought me among them, and I showed them mercy. And when I left them, what had seemed to me bitter was turned into sweetness in soul and body.”

— Testament of Francis

Francis climbing down the fountain,
scattering birds, offering seed,
daring huddle lepers hidden
under centuries of need

here to find you wasting, spending
what in any case is lost;
all we have and have been given
to embrace within the cross.

“people living with AIDS” we say,
as if somewhere there were not
bleeding hands and souls and faces;
didn’t Jesus die the cost?

one day God let Francis down,
slip the bird-bath into free,
join fools enough to carry
brother, sister death to ease.

–William B. Jones


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