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Are you restless or hungry for more in your life? Are you seeking wisdom or looking for inspiration? The gospel gave guidance to Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi as they followed the footprints of Jesus some 800 years ago. The witness of their lives and values continue to inspire those of us on a spiritual journey today. Join Sister Michelle L’Allier and her guests for a time of shared reflection and conversation.

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Oct 12, 2022

Join Garry and JoAnn Dahl as they reflect together on what it is to choose the path of transformation and not of transaction in relationships, sharing a trajectory of growth in relation to God and others as they seek to bring peace to the planet and one another.

For a video version of this episode, see:


From Garry and JoAnn’s interview:

Garry: “I come from a perspective at this junction in my life where I see everything as gift, that I didn't deserve, or wasn't entitled to, or there wasn't something I merited. It was purely gratuitous, God loving and manifesting God's self in creation. It seems to me that if we want to live in that image and likeness, we have to model that perspective as best we can in all our relationships. I certainly see that in our, my relationship to JoAnn, that who she is and the wonderful person that she is, has been gifted to my life to share and experience. There is a great sense of gratitude for that, but also a humility that, in the same way I didn't deserve to be born into this world; it was gratuitous. The same is true in relationship to another human being who, is on the same journey that I'm on. I have the opportunity to walk that journey in a spirit of love, that love constantly challenges us to let down our guard and open further and to love deeper and experience more completely all the gifts that God shares with us. It is incredibly humbling because it's the avenue by which as we move on our spiritual journey, we've been doing that together as a couple.”


JoAnn: “When we talk about choosing each other in marriage, it's true, I chose Garry, Garry chose me. But then in faith, we also believe that God chose us for each other. And when you have a gift mentality or modality, it's a different kind of way you receive. If you go and acquire something, that's different, but if you get something as a gift that has a receptivity to it that is completely different. It requires gratitude, openness and humility because the giver saw something in you that needed that gift. So I think that there's a whole receptivity in seeing another person in any relationship you have as being a gift to you in your life at that time, at that moment. And it makes a difference in how you interact. I think that idea of gift is a crucial kind of mindset.”


JoAnn: “Change is inevitable and some changes, I think, are the result of life circumstances. … There's a letting go and an embracing of what's next. And I really think that's part of the marriage journey and any long-term relationship. Letting go of what was and embracing what's next. Garry mentioned that continual conversion, which is rooted in an openness to be willing to let go of whatever barriers to spiritual growth you're harboring and allow God to do the work needed to change you. And that's part of that long-term marriage dance too. … We have a shared common trajectory in that we both want to grow deeper and deeper in relationship with God and with each other.”


Garry: “The idea of (being) naked before God, we're not as generous as naked beings in front of other human beings, cuz we don't wanna appear vulnerable or weak or flawed, so we guard ourselves. But in a marriage that's working, I think the other person serves as a mirror. There are parts that I need somebody who can mirror back to me that which I can't see, so that in seeing what I can't see, I might be able to grow through it, or love my way through it as I like to see it.”


JoAnn: “Transformation and relationship: You enter into the full unity, that's about relationship and God revealing God to us, and that means that it's transformational rather than transactional. … I think it's about revelation and relationship and not simply redemption. When I'm trying to tick off the boxes of doing all the right things to merit God's love, then I start watching other people and seeing if they're ticking off the right boxes too, and now I become judgmental. So it's better to be vulnerable and let God work whatever changes are necessary inside, being open to transformation and not worrying about if I exacted the right transactions this week.”


JoAnn: “Initially growing up, I thought that Francis was the easy Saint, because he's a nice guy who loves nature. Oh, that's great. I can follow that. But then I realized that Francis is pretty challenging because Francis … tries to love as God loves. That's a pretty challenging way to be—that's not the easy saint.”


Garry: “I do love that, but Francis didn't get it all right either; just like the rest of us don't get it all right. We try to find a model and a way of living our lives that will bring about the hope for fulfillment that we all desire. He helped open us to the idea of being willing to suffer on behalf of God, and especially suffer with those who are suffering in this world. We are called as Franciscans to reach out to those people as best we can to ease their suffering and to know that they don't walk in this world alone. Francis modeled that and was loved for that, and God worked through him because of that.”


Garry: “Then there's the huge challenge for all of us, whether it be you Sister Michelle or JoAnn or I, what is mine to do?  What is ours to do to help bring about God's desire for God's people?    And that would be his world as well, which he loves. There are so many beautiful things in creation; they were created out of that same love that created us out of love. So how do we encounter our world in a manner that we might be conduits for that transformation that JoAnn was talking about? And how do we heal this world, this time and space in God's wondrous creation? What is our role in bringing about both peace and restoration to our planet and that same peace and restoration to one another?”


For a full transcript, please include episode number and email:



Qualities, attitudes and actions important for marriage and relationships to work: Drawing from the interview, Garry and JoAnn name continual conversion, gratitude, receptivity, humility, love, openness, mutual encouragement, common trajectory of growth in relationship with God and with others, shared vulnerability, choose path of transformation and not transaction in relationship, forgiveness, make room for other to be who they are, life-long learning, common spiritual yearning, poverty, suffer with the suffering, bring peace to the planet and to one another/others.


Continual Conversion in Franciscan Spirituality: Consider this video by Darleen Pryds, Ph.D. of the Franciscan School of Theology (FST), entitled: “Emotional Range and On-Going Conversion: Franciscan Joy,” – video #35 of the Franciscan Vision Series (see below for general link).


Conversion, another meditation: Grows out of self-knowledge; we tend to like dramatic conversions like the story of St. Paul. For Francis (and most people), conversions may have dramatic events, but it is more a process or journey. As one’s outward life becomes humbler and simpler, one’s inner life becomes richer.

            -Peace and Good through the year with Francis of Assisi, Pat McCloskey, OFM, cf. p. 67.


Why Did God Become Human? by Dr. Daniel Horan, OFM, John Duns Scotus professor of spirituality at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago: this video (#23) is from the Franciscan Vision Series; here’s a link to the playlist of many fine explorations of Franciscan Spirituality, including #23:


Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.”


Franciscan Poverty: See this introductory text by Brother Bill Short, OFM, in an excerpt from his book “Poverty and Joy”: › 11001 › documents


Canticle of the Creatures, by Francis: ; the full text is at: