Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Speaking of books and Italy...

This book is perpetually on my nightstand, my kitchen table, my desk, my coffee table. Really, it seems I'm almost never without it. I read it constantly -- and over and over. The Sun & Moon Over Assisi: A Personal Encounter with Francis and Clare by Gerard Thomas Straub is not only the story of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi but the story of Straub's own spiritual transformation. This book is so full of spiritual gems that I use it more like a prayer book, often reading a passage just before bed so I have something to ponder as I drift off to sleep.

Interspersed with Straub's personal history and the lives of the two great saints of Assisi are journal entries and personal reflections on the experiences in Italy that led Straub from atheism to faith, from a secular world view to a decidedly Franciscan perspective on life. I find his writing and his observations inspiring and deeply touching, as if he is peering into my own soul and reminding me of what I need to hear.

Scattered throughout the 6oo-plus page tome are quotes from so many of the spiritual greats -- Thomas Merton, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, Henri Nouwen, John of the Cross, Mother Teresa, and, of course, Francis and Clare. I picked up this book in hopes of gleaning some new information about the saints from Assisi, and I certainly have done that, but, even more importantly, I continue to uncover insights and inspirations that are aiding me in my own faith journey.

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