It’s a feeble attempt, really. If I weren’t sure of the willingness of God himself to accept my feeble attempts, which sometimes I am not actually, I wouldn’t attempt this. But, nevertheless, herein is my attempt at praying the Prayer of St. Francis (or whoever it should be attributed to) for myself. Again. (This post is about five attempts later.)
First, my own version; followed by the Prayer of St. Francis.
God help me, I am capable of making noise for many things
but I beg that you would help me make music toward your shalom.
Where people pour out ugliness and fury, help me be a gardener of acceptance and mutuality;
Where there is a history and presence of war and oppression, help me be a gardener of forgiveness and willing hospitality toward the other;
Where things are wrong and closed and tight, help me be a gardener of truth and honesty and humility;
Where there are darknesses and questions and fields of belieflessness, help me be a gardener of possibility and flowering questions;
Where there is hurt and damage and isolation, help me a gardener of healing and hope and communitas;
Where there is hopelessness and maps that speak only to the end of the road, help me be a gardener of new roads and new paths and unseen forks in the road;
Where their is pain and illness and struggle, help me be a gardener of life and health and work;
God, where the things we feel in our darkest moments feel more real than anything we can touch, make the things of you touchable and bright and real enough for the moment.
Help me work less to feel more whole than to speak wholeness to others.
Help me work less to have the answers than to feel the questions of others.
Help me work less to know I am a part of the circle than to move the circle out so that all are included.
In a kind of backwards kingdom-math, it is in becoming poor that we become rich.
In a kind of backwards kingdom-math, it is in wiping the tears of others that our own tears are dried.
In a kind of backwards kingdom-math, it is in letting go of all we hold on to that our shame is released.
In a kind of backwards kingdom-math, it is in giving up that we find we have given nothing to gain everything. Forever.
God help me, I am capable of making noise for many things
but I beg you guide me to make music toward your shalom.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-St. Francis, or whomever it was.
Chapel Hill, NC
When you are empty and wondering if it was worth it, it means you’re valuing what God values.
When you are broken-hearted and swollen with tears, it means you are craving the kingdom and recognize its absence.
When you learn to think and fight and dream in third ways, it means you are beginning to grow your kingdom legs.
When you realize how far you still have to go and it leaves you moving humbly and curiously, it means you will become who you hope to become.
When you make room and offer love to those who should be kicked out and chewed out, it means you are learning to welcome yourself the way you’ve already been welcomed.
When you see beauty and hope and artistry in everything, it means you are learning to see with the eyes of your maker.
When you stand on the line between those fighting against each other and call for a ceasefire, you resemble your father more than you ever have before.
When you live in ways that speak to something deep and true and it lands you in hot water, it means you have found the ways of living that challenge the present and speak to the future.
When you live like me, and look like me, and forgive like me, and make peace like me, and love like me and get chewed out and spoken down to and looked crossways at and released from your position for, you’ve found what you’re looking for and you’ll never be happy again unless you live into what you’ve discovered. And don’t think you’re the first; you come from a long line of rule breakers.
Pine Tree Dr.
Add your own version of the beatitudes in the comments below.
I woke up Easter morning to find an email from a friend that only read:
“Today may you start seeing God’s resurrection of things regarded as dead.”
One week later, I’m not sure in what ways I’m starting to see the resurrection of things regarded as dead.
I let a lady check out in front of me today at the store, and she replied that chivalry might not be dead.
Another lady at another store had to ask me a million different questions and try to sell me on a million different offers during the checkout process. I thought nothing of it all until she leaned over the register and said, “thanks, at least, for being nice about all this, young man.”
I went to the funeral today of a good friend’s father who got sudden news of serious cancer, and within weeks, goodbyes were said and tearful thanks given for the notion that the end of life might not actually be an end at all. As much as it still hurts like hell, of course.
And so I wonder, one week after Easter, what it means to begin seeing God’s resurrection of things regarded as dead.
The lost life of a father.
What about hope that good can overcome evil?
That generosity can overcome greedy anxiety?
That humility beats out power and success and ambition?
That justice can break its way into dark injustices?
That forgiveness is stronger than any force of revenge and retaliation.
That families can come together, no matter how they’ve wrestled apart.
That marriages can make it.
That children can make it to adulthood.
That adults can remember the joy of childhood.
That abundance can make its way to those living in great scarcity.
Abundance and scarcity of money, identity, understanding and freedom.
We don’t build our church buildings next to our graveyards anymore, and we’ve likely forgotten altogether the resurrection we’ve been counting on as a ragtag group of women and men and liars and lovers all these years.
We’ve also likely forgotten that things we’ve already written off and sealed up and buried deep as dead impossibilities are waiting, one week after Easter as much as easter morning itself, for the resurrection.
Hope, generosity, justice, families, marriages, children, adults, abundance, scarcity and equality, identity, understanding and freedom.
Chivalry isn’t dead.
Neither is the hope, and therefore the prayer, that God’s kingdom come, and his will be done, on the earth this week after Easter Sunday, as it is in heaven.