I believe (yes believe) that if I had been listening to or reading the stories of The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi in the 1300s I would have believed them and taken them quite seriously. Although, I am not reading the stories in the 1300s; I am reading them now, in the 21st century, so if I were asked what my view of these stories was here and now, I would say these stories appear to be a bit fabricated and farfetched. I mean seriously, who has one of his fellow traveling companions spin around until dizzy and stop in order to determine which direction God wants them to go? Just a tiny bit ridiculous, don’t you think?
Recently, I have learned that the things that seem to be farfetched and myth-like are not so farfetched at all; it just depends on how you look at the matter.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary the full definition of a myth is “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” So, in other words from what I understood from that: myths can shape our cultures or viewpoints.
Clyde Kilby, a former professor, says, “Myth is the name of a way of seeing, a way of knowing.” “Not fantasy, not lies, but things coming to us from beyond the walls of this world.” John Eldredge adds.
What a fascinating statement. Before I read those words I was totally anti-myth. I thought that all things “myth” were solely false and corrupt magical fantasy. I now realize that I was incorrect. When you think about it even the Bible even has “myths” in it. We wouldn’t call them myths though, because that would be completely unheard of. Instead, they are called parables. Parables are stories that Jesus used to teach people and help them to see.
Didn’t the parables that Jesus told shape us, and “explain a practice or belief?” I believe they did.
Could it be that the people who heard the stories about St. Francis’ works might have received a new view or understanding of life that enabled them to see and understand things differently than before? Or maybe it just simply confused them more. I doubt it would have caused much confusion though, because, in my view, people way back then seemed to have been likely to believe what they were told.
In conclusion, if I had heard some of the stories in The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi during the 1300s I think I would have believed them, even though they do seem a bit mythical.
I hope that I was able to help you to see and understand the things of this world a bit more easily than before.