"I hope these reflections [in this book] will help us recognize one helpful truth: There is a universal accessibility, invitation, and inclusivity in an authentic Franciscan spirituality. It surpasses the boundaries of religion, culture, gender, ethnicity, era, class, or any measure of worthiness or education. Like the Incarnation itself, the Franciscan reading of the Gospel 'brings everything together, in the heavens and on the earth, behind Christ who is leading the way, and in whom we are all claimed as God's own' (Ephesians 1:10-11).

"This is not an elitist journey, not a separatist or clerical journey, not a journey based in false asceticism or superiority, but a journey based in the elements that are universally available to all humans: nature itself, embodiment, solidarity with the necessary cycle of both life and death, the democracy of love, and most especially with a God 'who is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart' (Deuteronomy 30:14). This is what divine grace is — always given — unawares and unearned and everywhere, but sadly too often unwanted.

"The Franciscan alternative way is alternative precisely because it names, gathers, suffers, and transforms what is already happening all of the time. There is no group to join here, no physical body to reject, nor anyone to exclude. As the last chapter of the Bible reminds us, we are already floating — all of us — in this immense and gracious 'river of life, rising from the throne of God, already flowing crystal clear down the middle of the city streets' (Revelation 22:1-2).

"You see, only love can move across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy, a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, like a great river and water itself."