Monday, August 6, 2012

I was reminded today...


I’ve been away from this blog for some time now. Like, 14 months. So, it’s high time I put fingers to keys and take it up again. We’ll see what fruit my writing may bear. Maybe it will bear nothing for you, whoever you are, reading from wherever you exist out there beyond the blogosphere. But, for me...maybe writing again will provide that sounding board, that place of contemplation in this space between. 

~~~~~~~

I was reminded today of one of my favorite prayers. I first saw it while on retreat at the The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. It was given to me by Fr. Anthony Delisi, OCSO, an earthy, irreverent, lovable old monk who has been at the monastery since 1948. The prayer comes to us from, like Father Anthony, a Trappist monk named Thomas Merton.  

My Lord God, 
I have no idea where I am going. 
I do not see the road ahead of me. 
I cannot know for certain where it will end. 
Nor do I really know myself, 
and the fact that I think I am following your will 
does not mean that I am actually doing so. 
But I believe that the desire to please you 
does in fact please you. 
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. 
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire. 
And I know that if I do this 
you will lead me by the right road, 
though I may know nothing about it. 
Therefore I will trust you always 
though I may seem to be lost 
and in the shadow of death. 
I will not fear, 
for you are ever with me, 
and you will never leave me 
to face my perils alone. 1


I love this prayer,...except...for just a point where I feel the need to push back a little with Merton’s assumptions. (The thing is, I would have loved to have had a glass of wine with Merton himself, and discuss this prayer. That would have been fantastic. But, since he is dead, that’s not going to happen. Thus, I get to push back, and he’ll have no defense of the matter. Sucks being dead, doesn’t it.) 

Here’s my push back: I know I often DO NOT “desire” to please God. The truth is I desire to please myself and other people. But please God, all the time? No, I don’t think so. Actually, I’m really good at rebelling against God. I choose to do stuff that is contrary to what God desires. Sometimes I do it knowingly and often times, unknowingly. In addition, I don’t often trust God. No, I trust other so-called gods. I trust income and banks and insurance and science and technology and other people and myself, just to name a few. But God..always? No, I don’t think so.  

So then, where does that leave me according to Merton? It seems it leaves me alone and without God. But, I don’t buy it. You see, I think God is more powerful than my biggest and most persistent weaknesses and failures. I think God’s love for me depends not on my “desire” or “trust” but God’s. God loves me and you with an everlasting love that depends not on us, but on the fact that God chooses to love us (period.)

So, humbly, yet boldly I offer this modification of Merton:
But I believe that the desire to please you 
does in fact please you. 
...Yet, I know I don’t always possess the desire to please you. 
And, the truth is, I will act often apart from that desire. 
Even still, I know that you will pursue me
constantly calling me back to the right road, 
though I may know nothing about it. 
And even when I am not faithful, you are. 
Even when I am lost 
and in the shadow of death. 
you are faithfully with me, 
and you will never leave me 
to face my perils alone.

__________________
1 Thomas Merton, Thoughts on Solitude

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