Why St. Francis Thought A Reclusive Life Was Unnecessary

My partner, Blaine, sent this quote out a few weeks ago. I love that it came from him. We were both recluses for years. If it wasn’t for Blaine, I’d have missed this opportunity for growth:

“The widest possibilities for spiritual growth lie in the
give-and-take of everyday relationships. The truth of this is
brought out sweetly in a story about Saint Francis of Assisi.
Three young men approached Francis and asked his blessing
to become hermits and seek God — each in his own cave, deep in
the mountains of Umbria. Francis smiled. He instructed them to
be hermits indeed, but hermits all together in a single hut. One
should take the role of father; a second should think of himself
as the mother; and the third should be their child. Every few
months they should exchange roles. Living in this way they were
to establish among themselves perfect harmony, thinking always
of the needs of one another.

“We can almost see the three would-be recluses exchanging sidelong
glances. Their teacher had issued them a greater challenge than
any they had bargained for. Yet they carried out Francis’s
instructions, discovering that human relationships are the
perfect tool for sanding away our rough edges and getting at the
core of divinity within us. We need look no further than our own
family, friends, acquaintances, or even adversaries, to begin our

From Eknath Easwaran, “Words to Live By” (Nilgiri Press, 1997)

Now Add The Work of Byron Katie

When you add The Work to the mix, the spiritual growth that comes from everyday relationships is greatly accelerated. Five years ago I felt trapped in my relationship with Blaine. I did a lot of work on it. Now, I feel grateful to be with him.

Whenever you are faced with pain in your relationship, The Work invites you to “judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions and turn it around.”

If it’s spiritual growth you’re interested in, everyday relationships combined with The Work make one of the best fertilizers that I know.

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves to work with clients about their relationships. To do The Work with him, please visit his website here.

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