Our garden on East Austin Street is no stranger to theft. For two summers now someone has been cutting flowers for his or her private pleasure, including half a flourishing poppy with its blossoms neatly shaved off on one side. No doubt, the thief does not give much thought to the visual effect of this larceny, to the lost pleasure of everyone who passes by in the days that follow, or to the feelings of my wife, whose garden means a great deal to her.

But during Holy Week, garden theft was raised to a new level. Our statue of St. Francis was stolen. “Perhaps someone needed an Easter gift for his mother,” my wife said, without a trace of humor. I don’t know what home St. Francis has gone to, but his new owners should know something about him. The date on which his birth and death are remembered is October 4th, my wife’s birthday. She has been to Assisi to see where St. Francis lived and died. This statue was a gift to my wife from her mother. For 12 years, St. Francis has stood in our garden reminding our neighbors, friends and visitors of a gentle, forgiving man who loved nature.

St. Francis is most widely known, perhaps, by the prayer attributed to him, which in English begins:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.

I have no doubt St. Francis would forgive the person who stole his statue from our garden. I am not such a good sport, and it’s going to take some time.

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