May I ask you a few questions?
I ask them with humility.
I ask them in a gentle and genuine voice without the slightest hint of accusation.
My face is serene is I ask them.
For I haven’t the right to judge any man or woman alive . . .
Is your life not stale?
Has it not turned into an endless set of chores and a mass of desperate desires?
Does each day not bring with it the subtle torment of anxiety, and the imbalance of emotion?
Does your entire existence not revolve around the thin and delicate hands of a clock?
And if you had just one chance to roam free in the hills, would you not reach out for it with all the love in your heart?
I am Not a man of religion.
But religiousness something entirely different.
Saint Francis of Assisi is a man who I have considered kin for a very long time.
He once stood before a high priest in the town square. This how the conversation went:
High Priest: Are you seeking holy orders?
High Priest: Then what do you want?
Francis: I want to live like the birds in the sky. I want to experience the freedom and the purity that they experience. The rest is of no use to me. If the purpose of life is this loveless toil we fill our days with, then it is not for me. There must be something better.
Francis continued . . . I want to live. I want to live in the fields. Stride over hills. Climb trees. And swim rivers. I want to feel the firm grasp of the earth beneath my feet.
Mind you, that in his youth, Francis had succumbed to the culture. He drank and partied and carried on carelessly with his friends.
His was a life of angst and toil, like the rest of humanity.
But during the war between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured. And this would be an event that would forever change his life.
And run free in the hills he did.
And the world did with him the same as it did with Buddha. It immortalized him. It sanctified him. It honored a day in his name. And branded him a “saint.”
If Francis was a “saint,” then the birds that fly in the sky are also “saints.”
Leave it to society to give a lofty “title” to a man, so that it can be spared the shame of living the life of insects.
Giving Francis the title of “saint” is not an act of respect or benevolence. It is society’s clever way to avoid the journey that nature intended for man.
Allow me to relieve society from this luxury, if only for a moment.
Francis was not a “saint.”
Francis was not a “man of God,” even if he said he was.
Francis was a Man of Freedom.
Before he was a man of “religion.”
Before he was a man of “beliefs.”
He was just a man.
A nameless, identity-less creature who above all else, sought Freedom.
And this, my friend, is what every man, woman, and child seeks on this earth.
Call it by whatever name you like.
There isn’t a human being alive who does not want to roam free in the hills.
Even though you may consider yourself a martyr who is destined to save your companies or your family, you seek Freedom above all other things.
I will not coax your admission.
For what your mouth says has been conditioned by habit and circumstance.
Your mouth is of no interest to me.
But your heart speaks the language of the identity-less human.
It despises the conflicts that you face each day.
It abhors your life of pressure and stress and endless anxiety.
And while the heart abhors such things, your mind has grown accustomed to them.
And because you have learned to identify with your mind more than your heart, you have grown accustomed to them as well.
Each moment of your life is an open invitation to roam free in the hills.
So be it.
Francis was a plain human. And so are you.
He roamed free in the hills. And so can you.
Absolve him of the saintly title so that you can either become inspired to do as he did, or cower in shame for avoiding the life that you were meant to live.
The hills were not meant as backdrops.
They were meant to be roamed.
This is why they are soft, my friend.
In order to receive the footprint of man.