I am writing peace resources today that will go out to thousands of people across the U.S. (Occasionally I get paid to do what I love – how lucky am I?) My colleague came across this prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assissi, which I have loved for years. You remember America’s favorite saint. He’s the one memorialized into garden statues. He was quite the radical, actually. But for now I want to share this important poem with you. It is way beyond adoring deer, birds, and a solemn-looking saint cast in concrete.
May God bless you with DISCOMFORTAt easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationshipsSo that you may live deep within your heartMay God bless you with ANGER . . .At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.May God bless you with TEARS . . .To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,starvation and war.So that you may reach out your hand to comfort themAnd to be a part of turning pain into JOY.And may God bless you with enough FOOLISHNESS . . .To believe that you can make a difference in this world,So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.~Amen
Discomfort, Anger, Tears, Foolishness. Not your usual “request for blessing”. (Can I hear an a-men in the room?) There is so much right about this prayer that I should really let it sit. It’s a stand alone piece. So, if just sitting with this to hear what it might have to say to you is what you need, would you just give a little “thank you” response if you have time and close out of this blog? I want you to hear what it is saying to YOU.
But if you are the kind of person who would like to hear my musings first, here you go.
I am tired. Tired of my own prayers. “Remind us to be grateful,” some of you know from reading my blog, is my prayer mantra. For me, internalizing gratitude means there is no whining about what I don’t have. No longing for things that only distract me from what matters. No responding with rage when kindness can prevail. These are some of how gratitude grounds me.
But truthfully, I’m a little tired of gratitude these days. Maybe this year I will move through gratitude to something deeper. Not that I don’t still believe this can continue to change my life. I do. But gratitude that moved me to DO something more could be good.
What if instead of gratitude, I prayed for discomfort. At half-truths. Artificial relationships. Easy answers.
How would I live? Deep in my heart as this suggests? I hope so. But my experience is that knowing the truth can make me jaded, cynical, and smart-ass-ish, if you know what I mean. Can I live more deeply in my heart instead? Can I turn skepticism and teenage eye rolling into a call for something deeper instead? I really do want to grow up. Discomfort won’t kill me.
What if I pray for anger? At injustice. Oppression. Exploitation of people.
Seriously, I am not sure I need to pray for anger at these things. I have that. But if anger only makes me seek out others who are angry and we just – like – rahhrr together, well… It is sort of like how I feel about “visualize world peace.” It’s a nice start. What if I prayed for anger that would get me off my middle aged white fanny and do something?
What if I pray for tears? At suffering? Rejection? Starvation? War?
OK, here’s the deal with me. I try NOT to cry. I think I am a bit afraid to feel that deeply about things I am afraid I cannot fix. I suffered a nasty WTH depression in the 90’s that has made me a little wary of being overtaken by my grief. So, I don’t really like to cry. It makes me worried for my mental health. Plus, it smears my mascara. But I do cry on the inside a lot. (Now, do NOT send me the phone number of your best therapist – I have one of my own, thankyouverymuch.) Perhaps I need to relax on that a little. Comfort is something I can offer. I am no longer post-partum, even if my belly may argue with that. I enjoy giving comfort. What’s so scary about that?
What if I prayed for foolishness? To believe I can make a difference in this world?
The question is: can I let myself believe I make a difference? We all know that the fool is not necessarily the favored guest at the dinner table. “Isn’t she sweet still believing she can change the world? Do NOT give her another glass of wine.” Just sayin. I’d have to be willing to stand out in as a bit -unique?- but hey, I probably do that anyway. This kind of foolishness could aid me in moving beyond my angsty, singer-songwriter-writing-blogging-internal world into something even more beautiful. Something bigger than my reflections and hopes.If you’re with me on this, grab your red nose or your jester outfit. And let’s just give it a go.
May you be Blessed…
(I do seriously have a red nose at work. It’s very handy.)