Sewing Hope Into Broken Hearts
Dec. 22, 2017

The Adventures of Orange Beard & The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life
My grandfather was a fantastic storyteller. As children, when we stayed overnight at his house he would tell us the most amazing bedtime stories. His most famous and memorable fable was that of the legendary swashbuckler “Orange Beard.” The fictitious pirate’s klutzy adventures were kept afloat by our giggles. My Pop’s boundless imagination provided just enough wind for his sails each night. The entertaining tales also taught us about what it meant to live with honor and virtue, help those in need and stand up for what is right and true.

His bedtime stories instilled in me a hunger to use my own creative power to story tell and inspire. Personally, I believe parables are the most powerful force on planet earth. Why? Jesus used thirty-seven of them Himself to teach, form, inspire and exhort us to live righteously. If stories are devoid of purpose, why did God himself use them so frequently? While my Pop’s bedtime stories aren’t in the canon of scripture (nor should they be included), they’ve made a huge impact in my life. For me, the Adventures of Orange Beard demonstrated in a fundamental way that human beings were born to create. We are fashioned in the image and likeness of our Creator God and our ability to cooperate and co-create with Him is limited only by timidity, fear, selfishness, and worry. We are designed by our Heavenly Father to unleash our imagination and lived experiences in the world by writing our stories on each other's hearts each and every day. My grandfather not only demonstrated this truth in his own life, but he also desired to pass it on to others.

He may not have known how impressionable those stories were, but he knew that His tales could only take Him and his grandchildren so far, no matter how fascinating. God was the greatest protagonist in his life and made certain we knew that about him. He never left our bedroom until he prayed with us. I have vivid memories of my grandfather kneeling next to my bed and leading us in prayer. His favorite prayer was the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, and in a soft tone prayed it (along with others) from his heart as we followed long on a well-used prayer card he gave to us.

Like his stories, my Pop’s bedtime prayers have impacted my life greatly. The humble manner in which he recited prayers at my bedside provided a foundation, sparked my interest, and modeled how to pray. He showed me that prayer is simple, humble, and from the heart. As I’ve matured spiritually, I can see why my grandfather liked the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi so much; the prayer provides direction and purpose. It is our duty to counteract hatred with love, injury with pardon, doubt with faith, despair with hope, darkness with light, and sadness with joy. It also helps us remember not to be selfish, putting others ahead of our own needs.

The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is the blueprint for living an abundant life. The Adventures of Orange Beard are just one of the many ways my Pop employed that diagram and demonstrated love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy for his grandchildren. It’s hard to believe that God wrote the final page of my Grandfather’s earthy story a year ago on December 22, 2016. His life was a great story in which I was privileged to have been a character for over 30 years. It is with a deep sense of gratitude and awe that I look at the blueprints he left behind and do my best to continue the story.