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Forest Bathing Holy Fools: St. Francis and Holy Foolishness in Grief-stricken times

St. Francis Icon by Tom K, Spiritual Director & my Prayer Partner from SDSG. Used with permission.

I write this Prayer Note praying for swift compassion to bring peace to the wars in the Middle East, Western Sudan and Ukraine and restoration of the world from global climate-change related disasters. And how can I keep my heart and eyes open?  I remember the holy fool found across religious traditions as the yurodivy of Russia, the siddhas of India and Tibet. The holy fool contradicts the status quo, can be outlandish, brash and shocking yet remains grounded in Spirit, Wisdom, Compassion and Love.  I offer St. Francis’ holy foolishness as a forest bathing invitation to you in this season.

Francis, I remember your life story.

In your youth, 

Your mind floated off into the fantasy of tales of chivalry

Until the reality of battle wounds scarred your body and your ego.

You dismounted your horse,

Disrobed layers of clothing, titles, inheritance,

Walked toward the wounded One called “leper” 

And kissed him.

You and Sultan Malik Al-Kamil entered mutual embrace -seeing the Other in each other as Soul Siblings even while the blades and blood of the Crusades warred on.

You learned to feed the terrorizing, starving Wolf 

At Gubbio 

And within yourself.

You befriended Sister Death

And let Mother Earth embrace your body.

You moved against the current of your world on the Way of Compassion, Love and Wisdom.

The invitation: 

Let Francis invite you to groundedness and holy foolishness.

Lie down on the leaf-covered grass of your yard or park, perhaps on a blanket. Or lie on your bed or seated in a chair by the window if you have weather or mobility concerns. 

Befriend this grounded place.

Draw what you need from Mother Earth. Breathe in Oxygen from all green beings- trees, phytoplankton.

Exhale what no longer serves. Gift it to Mother Earth to compost, to all green beings for their breath. 

Breathe into the places in your body asking for love, attention, spaciousness.

Rest and let Mother Earth hold you for as long as you need. 

Then, when you are ready, gently bring your awareness and movement to your body.

As you rise, notice the sparkle in Francis’ eyes and your own - What holy foolishness will you get up to today? 

Justin Ferko (he/they) is a queer spiritual guide and Earth poet, Dean of SDSG II and graduate of Oasis SDSG and DYDM programs. Justin celebrates our giftedness, power and wholeness as LGBTQIA2S+ community in this time of increasing political oppression.  As a Certified Forest Bathing Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, Justin facilitates your soul friendship with Mother Earth and your own senses. You can reach him for spiritual guiding, supervision, or in-person/remotely guided Forest Bathing walks: and

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