On this national holiday there is nothing in me that wishes to celebrate. It feels as if we have regressed into an understanding of the gifts given to this country that is very low on the scale of mature response to challenge. It seems that freedom has now devolved into license, an immature “I’ll do what I want” rather than what is best for the common good. We are in danger now, not as much from any foreign enemy as from those previously named “neighbor.” The sadness that arises from these thoughts is profound.
In concert with these feelings I have been hearing a song in my head that is decades old and has not been in my internal Rolodex for sometime now. It was too long to sing during the guitar Masses of the 1960s—8:09 minutes to be exact—but I used to know all the verses anyway because they were (and are) so meaningful. For those of us who were taught to make a daily practice of “examination of conscience”—also known in religious circles simply as “examen”—the song can still be a powerful tool, as relevant today as it was a half-century ago. It will not leave me this morning and even if I only sing the refrain, I believe I will need to pay attention to the lyrics throughout the day.
The song was written and performed by Joe Wise and is called “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” I would recommend a listen in the quiet moments of this day to ask for willingness when we don’t know how to do anything on our own, because on this day, we ought to understand that we never can.