St Francis Receiving the Stigmata

In another life I was a Docent at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. One painting that consistently drew me was Jan van Eyck’s St Francis Receiving the Stigmata(1430-1432?). Painted on wood-panel, 7.5”x6.5”.

            “Jan van Eyck was the most celebrated painter in Northern Europe during the fifteenth century, widely hailed for his nearly miraculous ability to depict observed reality with a refinement verging on the microscopic. The effect of such intense realism was to create pictures that seemed at once very sharp yet very far away. Here Saint Francis is receiving on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet the same wounds suffered by the crucified Christ, who appears as an image held aloft by an angel. The saint’s stigmata would never heal and became for many the living proof of his holiness.

            Although Van Eyck’s representation of this legend follows the original Franciscan text quite literally, his one departure from earlier, chiefly Italian depictions is the inclusion of a great, panoramic landscape with a distant view of a bustling city. The scene is thus presented as a miracle being witnessed within the context of the whole sweep of nature and human life, which may seem magically beautiful but is in fact quite oblivious to the sacred action in the foreground.” Joseph J. Rishel, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 164.

And the point of all this gibberish is… what? Simply this—we are not the first in history who needed to discover the richness, the depth, and healing powers of meditation, of focusing our hearts, minds, & bodies on one singular thought. Moving away from the hustle & bustle of our world is often necessary to re-focus ourselves, to find our place in God’s universe, and to cleanse our souls from way too much grit and grime.

In organizational terms, we often must re-focus our thoughts as well. We need to reexamine our Mission— is everything we are doing focused on fulfilling our stated Mission? Are we still true to our Passion? Does each member of the team, from CEO, COO, CFO, managers, employees (even volunteers), and service staff know their role in achieving our Goals? And do we have a sense that we are all in this together?

We will most definitely encounter problems, road-blocks, and impossible circumstances to overcome. Like St Francis, the Stigmata will wound, piercing our flesh, just as it did to Christ. It is only though suffering and fortitude that we will succeed. We must remain flexible and creative enough to turn these times into adaptive realignments of our methods of achieving our goals. Never! Never, Never give up! Winston Churchill.

Realign your life, and your organization, to focus on what you are designed to do, then do it.

Have a nice week,


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