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St Francis & the Animals
St Francis & the Animals

Created in Russia in 1988 while traveling as a troubadour from my home country on a peace-making tour to create a reunion with people of the Motherland (where my family's roots are from) through visual and performance art, especially interactive storytelling, this piece depicts the joyful embracing by St. Francis of Assisi of all nature and the entire animal kingdom.

I remember the moment this piece came into creation. When the tour bus let out the bunch of us Americans out for lunch in some rustic village, one of us was wearing a T-shirt with this similar image -- yet to my eyes, the sole black and white lines on his shirt seemed dull and lifeless. From my perspective, the shapes and outlines of the figures needed Energy -- to be filled with vivid colors, and be lifted to a stronger Presence and with greater Life Force. Within instants, the colors you can see now transformed a bleak outline into a burning brilliance.

On another shocking level entirely, the contrasting use of color from the original black and white reminded me of a huge difference we tourists experienced while visiting this foreign land -- we had the more colorful reception and warm invitation of our restaurant hosts, yet the Russian people themselves were not even allowed in to these very same places -- they were treated as outcasts -- with the privileges we were given freely completely taken away from them -- this reminds me, somehow, of the black and white stark outlines seeming in some strange way to be hungrily "crying out for more " in that original scene I first witnessed on the man's T-shirt. This demonstrates how using color can certainly bring life to even greater Life, as color expresses the language of emotions.

Here he stands , centrally located in our scene with a glowing gold star which radiates a purity and illumination towards all of life. His warm-toned red heart and orange-hued torso and arms reveal a great gladness and generosity of good will; it might remind you of a cozy hearth of a toasty fireplace. Animals of all sorts surround St. Francis, with elements of nature all around which give a comfortable inter-connectedness and peaceful union with every facet of Creation itself. Our hero stands tall on the top of a hill, his head topped with a classic halo -- All who witness this scene become filled with a Divine Presence.

You can feel it, too! As you take in your next full inhale, imagine yourself breathing in the brightness and strength of the multi-faceted colors within this painting. What are your favorite colors? Which ones are you ready to surround yourself with more, both on your body, in your clothing and your environment? Notice what difference it makes in your mood, your attitude and general sense of well-being when , as Socrates said, " your outer person resembles your inner [wo]man ."

Here's a fresh invitation for transforming your connection with yourself and the those around you, and an opportunity to release any sense of separation you might have been feeling up to now, between your inner and outer life. Reflect on the truth behind the following words derived from a Navajo Indian saying: