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Many adjectives have been added to tumbleweed (including Japan’s lovely PINK brand), but i don’t know how many have used “MOST HOLY?!” i do so today with the highest reverence and love.

When this man BLEW by me the other day in Central Park, i had, among many other thoughts and feelings, the most profound sense of deja vu. It took me
way way way back to the most defining period of my life and to a “darlin’ companion” i had there, and who stayed right by my side for many years after.
i wrote of this time in a previous post, an assignment i had as a young friar
priest in Amarillo, Texas. i was sent to teach young friars about St. Francis, and they had taken up residence within a Mexican Migrant Camp. This was not “my school” but theirs. i was not the “teacher,” but they, the Mexicans, the “little ones of God,” as well as their companions, about 5000 tumbleweeds!

In preparation for priesthood i had been through so much schooling…in so many different schools…but honestly NONE so important as theirs.

When i left West Texas to head back to New York, i reached out along the Rt.40 and grabbed one of those scraggly guys, those tumbling tumbleweeds, to be my mentor in life, i.e. to never let me forget my “university of life” and its wise “professors”, such gentle, humble people of faith and hope and love. That tumbleweed sat in the front passenger seat of my car (Lol, many drove by us gazing…) all through Oklahoma and Kansas and Missouri and Illinois and Indiana. He was my “heart” in the Heartland. Finally Ohio, Pennsylvania, and we were home…but only for a day or two, then off again to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and through Canada to Detroit. Wherever i roamed after that, my tumbleweed came along. There were even many times that i took him to church with me, EVEN MANY TIMES when i shut up, sat back, and let the tumbleweed – in its simple profundity – deliver the sermon of the day. NO DOUBT THESE WERE MY VERY BEST HOMILIES EVER!!!
Hey, if you don’t believe me, here is an old photograph:010515124713-1 (1)

When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, blew by me and my son, Ben, and 80000+ others, the Wind of the Holy Spirit was under his wings. How often America saw those “wings” of his flying!!! Such a simple man and as free as the Great White Dove that sent him to us, his message was so clear and easy for everyone, even the littlest child, to understand. Wasn’t it basically that we are all just tumbleweeds, blowin through. A modern day St. Francis and St. Paul who said it best: “Not one of us has a permanent city here. We are all fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God. We are pilgrims and strangers, each one a sojourner on earth, behaving ourselves here as citizens of there, the City of Heaven,” wherein we are all one family, are we not, brothers and sisters all? (Hebrews 11, Philippians 3…) This Pure White Tumbleweed Most Holy says it in every word and gesture, “We’re all just passing through here. Why not get together and support each other?!”

Pope Francis is the man of every city and town, while being NOT the man of any of those places. He is gone from our sight now, and who knows how many of us shall ever see him again??? But see him, we do, even now, in our hearts, where he lives because of that “heavenly connection.” His dear Francis of Assisi used to say, “If we love and cherish those who are our brothers and sisters in the flesh and blood, how much more profoundly ought we to love and care for those who are our family in the One Holy Spirit!?” That is what will shine through this New Francis every minute of every day that he remains on this earth.65245_495842887163679_385192233_n

If you Google tumbleweed, and add the word “explosion,” an image will arise that i saw very often. In many places so many tumbleweeds will congregate that they will literally cover a car or truck or house. Again in Central Park, hours before the Pope went winging by, i felt the deja vu, as i felt so so many arms and legs pressing against mine, waiting for him. We were just like one of those giant tumbleweed families, strangers linked intimately together in One Spirit – with a magnificent RAINBOW overhead, the VOICE OF GOD loud and clear, “I AM SO PLEASED!”

i don’t know whether the final count is in, as to how many times the Pope said, “I am a son of immigrants” or
“Don’t be afraid of foreigners,” but let’s suffice it to say that it is clear, by the rounding resounding applause each time, WE GOT THE POINT! (i’m not sure the Congress did???) And in hearing the Holy Father,we heard our other holy father, our very first one, George Washington, who told us even before we were born, “If you want to be a great and happy nation, you must always be an asylum for anyone in need, sharing the Divine Mercy we have so generously received!” i believe George, though he had not met one, knew in his heart the wisdom of THE GREAT AMERICAN TUMBLEWEED.

a little poem i wrote 30 years ago:

i’ve lived my life
in the shadow of a tumbleweed,
utterly simple yet profound,
greatest of teachers,
so quiet,
never in need of a word.
Stark pilgrim
blowing, ever blowing…
no citizen here.
Broken, so many times broken,
but still in possession of branches
to be broken once again,
ever so vulnerable,
open to the Wind of God’s Holy Spirit,
Closest companion, brother,
Friend of All Friends,
never at home, except when linked to my brothers and sister weeds,
and OH! So Enjoying the Ride.100_7117-1


Author: friardad

what's it like having a wife and six kids after having been a friar for many years and being still married to St. Francis' Lady Poverty?

5 thoughts on “TUMBLEWEED MOST HOLY”

    1. Fr. Henry, we all felt that sooooooooooooo profoundly on September 11, 2001, and for many days, weeks, months after. Then we seemed to forget. The Visit of Pope Francis brought us back to OUR SPIRITUAL GROUND ZERO. i was just in one “small crowd,” really, compared to many others. i was smashed in the center of 80,000 tumbleweeds. BUT IT WAS TRULY A 9/11 CROWD, a 9/11 Experience all over again…Hey, thanks for bloggin with this t-weed!”


  1. Mikie, I was a bit lost in this tweet as it seems you rode back to NY with a young friar from Texas???
    I did not grasp the image of the tumbleweed as readily as some of your other images…yes I got that we are all passing through…perhaps I need to re-read the tweet as often your reflections are packed and takes some unpacking. Anyway, keep those tweets coming.


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