told by St. Francis to his followers
and it goes something like this . . .
The very first animal to appear
at the gates of heaven
was the snail.
St. Peter bent forward
tapping the snail with his staff,
"What are you looking for here
my fine little snail?"
"Immortality" the snail answered politely.
Peter howled with laughter.
"Immortality! And just what
do you plan to do with immortality?"
''Don't laugh,' the snail countered.
"Aren't I one of God's creatures?
"Aren't I a son of God just like the Archangel Michael?
that's who I am"
"Where are your wings of gold,
the scarlet sandals
betokening your regality?"
asleep and waiting."
"Waiting for what?"
"Waiting for the Great Moment,"
replied the snail.
"What Great Moment?"
"This one now!"
said the snail.
And before he had finished saying 'Now'
he took a great leap as though
he had sprouted wings,
and he entered paradise. . .
St. Francis finished
by saying to his followers
"Do you understand?
We are just like Brother Snail.
Within us are the wings,
the scimitar and the royal sandals.
If we want to enter Paradise
we can at any moment.
We must simply want it
more than anything else
and we must be willing to take the leap . . . jump!"