This morning's cup of tea.
Vietnam Vanilla from California Tea and Coffee Brewery. It's their first tea from Vietnam, and while I'm usually not a fan of vanilla-infused teas, this one is uniquely balanced and subtle. Simple, surprising, but true to its name.
This "Tea Novena" began in response to the announcement of the new pope, Pope Francis. The enormity of the job that had been bestowed on him and his humble, yet clear, response to it got me thinking. And so I decided to make a journey alongside his first days in this role and reflect on how each of us impacts the world in our own, perhaps small, but meaningful ways.
His choice of name. Francis. The more you learn about St. Francis of Assisi, whose name this new pope has taken, the more you can understand his heart and purpose.
St. Francis came from a wealthy family and lived it up, as young, rich men do. He went to war, and in experiencing the other side of life's realities, his heart and priorities changed. He chose a life of poverty and humility, and people were drawn to who he was and what he was doing. There is a story of his visiting a church, and while he was praying inside, he heard God very clearly asking him to rebuild his church, which was falling into ruin. He took the order seriously and worked within the community to rebuild that church. As more men were drawn to the work he was doing and the life he was living, Francis decided to go to Rome and request permission to found an official monastic order.
As he journeyed to Rome, Pope Innocent III was having his own spiritual journey. He had a dream one night of the Basilica in Rome leaning dangerously, on the verge of total collapse. And there was a man just below it, wearing a very simple robe, and this man was holding the Basilica up, supporting it, not allowing it to topple.
When St. Francis arrived to ask for an audience with the pope, Pope Innocent III saw him and recognized him as the man in the dream. He granted the request of the monastic order, and the Franciscan order was founded. When God had asked Francis to rebuild his church, He was referring to the Church. Capital "C." The pope recognized this. And what an impact St. Francis had and continues to have.
Pope Francis has embraced that approach wholeheartedly, and we saw from the first words he spoke with his focus on his primary jurisdiction as the bishop of the city of Rome. He seems to feel that rebuilding today's Church begins with rebuilding the faith of the people of Rome, which explains his decision to go to a local juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday and celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper and wash the feet of 12 of the youth there.
As I end my 9-day meditation, I want to continue to hold the understanding that what we do, what we say, what we give to those right in front of us holds great importance and tremendous weight. In those personal interactions, we have the power to build up or the power to destroy. We have the opportunity to share our gifts with those who ask them of us, or to say no and leave the world a little less whole.
Today I intend to find the "Yes" in my personal interactions, with the hope of making a difference to those who are right in front of me.