Two short statements to ponder on this auspicious Spirit-filled day—one from us and one to us:
1: “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.”
2: “Peace be with you!”
As we move into this week that we call “Holy” I have no words of my own so I search Thomas Merton’s Book of Hours for a message leading to silence. I feel that is the way to go in this week as much as possible, giving God the chance to speak. Here is Merton’s prayer:
Keep me, above all things, from sin. But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart in the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love for You alone. (p. 55)
Never has it been more difficult to open my computer to consider what to say for a blog post. After yesterday, there seems no way to express the feelings that I now I share with all those in the U.S. who witnessed the wanton destruction that took place in Washington, D.C. yesterday. We now know some of the horror, sadness and upheaval that so many lands live with all the time. How are we to face what has happened and move beyond blaming to a consciousness of what has happened, in order to find peace and reconstruction of our government and our hearts?
As it happens, I found in my mailbox at noon today an answer that posed a gigantic challenge for me. Join me, if you will, in what will likely be a very difficult process of effort at healing. You see, I doubt we will be able to explain away the violence and if we do not meet it head on (the reasons for it, I mean) it will remain in our collective consciousness to our detriment. So here is what I found when I opened the devotional pamphlet that gives me hope for every day. It’s called Living Faith and that seems more essential today than ever before. Here is what awaited me of the actual lectionary readings for today. It was shocking in its challenge but struck me as exactly what I needed.
If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar, for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 JN 4:20). Consider that with respect to the events of yesterday and pray for grace.
Last night, just before midnight, I read the quote that follows here. It made sense to me to send it out today as a call for a new year, a new way to be. It came from a man of extraordinary courage, John Lewis, and I have no words of my own that even come close to what he left us as a challenge. So take a breath, Everyone. Slow down and do not skim over the paragraph that follows. Savor the sentences, repeat each word aloud. Honor John Lewis and all the people who have loved this country and who hold on to what is best in it. Pray for healing for what needs to come alive again and be willing and ready to be a light shining for the world.
Study the path of others…Lean toward the whispers of your heart…Know that the truth always leads to love and the perpetuation of peace. Clothe yourself in the work of love…Hold only to love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won…If you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself. Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, John Lewis.
Blessings for the New Year!
Everything is silent…there are two feet of snow outside blanketing everything. The only sound is the tiny click of my keyboard as I type. The word that comes to me as a definition of “what is” today as I look out my window is pristine. The whiteness is everywhere and (as the dictionary explains) it is “in perfect condition: fresh and clean as or as if new.” I breathe it in wishing to feel a sense of “pristine-ness” in myself. In Brian Johnson’s column, Optimize, this morning there was a quote from William James that seems apropos.
“Buy room for peace and stillness,” he says, “and thus make good work and good thoughts accessible and inevitable.” Today seems a perfect day for that impetus to all good things. May it be so for you!
No long sentences today. Just big hope and few words. Please vote. Practice compassion and positive thoughts. Pray. Love without rancor. Be the peace you believe to be possible, i.e. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
God bless us all!
Today we have certainly reached the edge of the winter season as we experience temperatures tottering at the 30 degree mark and the winds whipping snow off the roof across the yard in momentary blizzard conditions. It will all be over soon as predictions for tomorrow catapult us back toward the 55 degree mark, (five being the number of change in numerology…).
Against that tumultuous background I clicked on a peaceful YouTube video offered this morning by Jan Phillips. Between the engaging photos and the ethereal background music of the Ave Maria, the text of Hope Transforms provides exactly what the title promises: hope and peace on this otherwise potentially difficult day. It is worth ten minutes of your time and may be just what you need today.
As we count down the days leading to our national elections, I search for words that will speak of right judgment and trust—words of all the virtues that might help in difficult times. What seems most important today on a cold, rainy morning, however, is a straightforward prayer for peace. Empty of words of my own, I turn to Joyce Rupp for the assistance of a person whose very being exudes peace. She does not fail me. Pray with me if you will.
Peace-bringer, create in me a heart filled with the kind of love that reflects your own. Send this love to those I care about and respect. Open my mind to those I want to reject. Open my heart to those I prefer to avoid. Open my eyes to see beyond the surface of individuals and recognize your presence in each one. May my thoughts, words and deeds be devoid of violence in any form. Soften whatever is hardened in my heart so that I bring your peace wherever I go. Remind me often that I, too, am in need of this love and worthy to receive it. (Prayer Seeds, p.53)
We are living in traumatic times that seem more unbelievable each day. At some moments it seems as if the world has gone crazy. In those moments I think of the wise and holy people alive on the planet who give me hope and calm my spirit. Here is a prayer from one of them, John Philip Newell, for the possible focus of peace for this day.
In the morning light, O God, may I glimpse again your image deep within me, the threads of eternal glory woven into the fabric of every man and woman. Again may I catch sight of the mystery of the human soul fashioned in your likeness, deeper than knowing, more enduring than time. And in glimpsing these threads of light amidst the weakness and distortions of my life, let me be recalled to the strength and beauty deep in my soul. Let me be recalled to the strength and beauty of your image in every living soul. (Celtic Benediction, p. 62)
Saturday has long been a “catch-up” day for me. Two of us were just sitting in the kitchen downstairs speaking of our plans for the day. Most of the time there is at least a resemblance of, if not a completed check-list at the end of the day, but it’s always good to begin that way. Now I’m sitting upstairs, looking out at the stillness of the giant tree that stands ready for the day, waiting for the sun to break forth from the fog that is now dissipating, waiting as well for a morning prayer to emerge. It is all so quiet that I would prefer a longer preface…so I yield my active self to John Philip Newell just for a little while. Pray with me if you will.
In the busyness of this day grant me a stillness of seeing, O God. In the conflicting voices of my heart grant me a calmness of hearing. Let my seeing and hearing, my words and actions, be rooted in a silent certainty of your presence. Let my passions for life and the longings for justice that stir within me be grounded in the experience of your stillness. Let my life be rooted in the ground of your peace, O God, let me be rooted in the depths of your peace. (Celtic Benediction, p.77)