Saints Francis and Clare both had profound spiritual experiences before the San Damiano Cross. It was before this cross that Francis was said to have received his call to rebuild the church—which he would later find out had more to do with the Body of Christ than rebuilding a broken-down chapel. In the rich symbolism of a crucifix we are reminded of the mystery of the Incarnation—God becoming human and entering into the fullness of human suffering—which was core to Francis and Clare’s theology.
When I am lost and lonely, my Lord,
I turn my gaze upon the manger:
Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, humbly entering our world,
reminding all that God is with us in our pain and fear.
When I feel broken and betrayed, my Lord,
I turn my gaze upon the crucifix:
Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, humbly entering the depths of human suffering,
and again doing so now, in this moment.
Throughout your day, especially whenever you feel reactive or overwhelmed, consider your favorite religious image and gaze upon it with “the eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18). As you focus on the image allow your breathing to calm and your mind to become more grounded.