Instrument

Instrument: “a tool or device used for a particular purpose; especially: a tool or device designed to do careful and exact work”¹

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the 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. Amen.

As I reread this prayer, known as “The Peace Prayer” and the “Saint Francis of Assisi’s Prayer,” I wondered about the conditions under which it was originally penned. According to Dr. Christian Renoux, Associate Professor of the University of Orleans, France, (as cited in the Franciscan Archive)², the Peace prayer first appeared in France in 1912 in La Clochette, a small spiritual magazine. Additionally, Dr. Renoux notes, “Between the two world wars, the prayer circulated in Europe and was translated into English” and was first attributed to Saint Francis in 1927.

The fact that “The prayer circulated between two world wars…” makes sense. Peace, whether in our personal lives, in families, country, or the world, is something we often take for granted in the absence of conflict. The absence of conflict, unfortunately, is a state that has been unknown in the earth for decades; however, it is a state from which we can often distance ourselves when the conflict does not touch us directly. But oh how we long for peace when storms are raging internally and externally, and war seems to have been declared in our lives, and we feel as if we have been thrust unprepared onto a battlefield. During these seasons, we often cry, beg, plead, groan for relief, for an end to the warfare, for peace. I wonder, however, how often in conflicts do we whisper these words in some variation, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace…” based on the recognition that we can be the instrument He uses to infuse peace into a situation?

Speaking from personal experience, we can too easily point to the role of another person or persons in the conflict, the “trying-to- remove-a-speck-in-my-brother’s-eye-when-there-is-plank-in-mine” phenomenon described in Luke 6:42³. In addition, my preference too often is that he, she, or they take the first step in resolving the conflict. This perspective however, contradicts the instruction in Matthew 5:23-24³, for me to initiate reconciliation. Umm.

It is unlikely that I will ever be called to intervene in national and international conflicts; however, I can allow Him to make me an instrument of His peace in the spaces and places I inhabit.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the 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. Amen.

¹http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instrument

²http://www.shrinesf.org/franciscan-prayer.html

³ http://biblehub.com/luke/6-42.htm; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5:23-24

 

 

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Can’t stand me

The title of today’s writing prompt from The Daily Post is, “Can’t stand me.” The questions to be answered are, “What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?”

Of the two options, my initial thought is that watching a video of myself would be the more difficult of the two. It appears tantamount to the difference between a telephone conversation and an in-person conversation. A smile can be heard in a person’s voice during a telephone conversation; however, it will be more difficult to ascertain if the smile is also in the person’s eyes during a telephone conversation than it will be if the conversation was occurring in-person.  My point is, just as more is visible or can be detected during an in-person conversation, so it is would be with a video of myself compared to listening to a recording of my voice. More is exposed.

One positive outcome of more being exposed is that my knowledge of myself can increase as a result; among other things, I can gain insight regarding what others observe as I engage in various behaviors, especially if the video taping occurred when I was unaware that this was being done.  The flip side is, increased self-knowledge can be both freeing and scary.

As I wrap up this post, I realize that responding to this prompt revealed that, unlike my initial perception, neither watching a video of myself or listening to a recording of my voice would be unbearable. What I believe is, there will be a greater level of vulnerability involved in seeing a video of myself than will be experienced in listening to a recording of my voice.

Words: A mode of transportation

In an attempt to maintain the daily writing habit to which I committed during my participation in the recent edition of Writing 101, I searched WordPress for a writing prompt and found the “Fifty” writing challenge.

I read the post “Regret,” written by Samantha Chan for the Fifty-Word writing challenge, and my heart was stabbed by the memory – the memory of picking up the telephone to call my mother several times in the months following her death and being slapped by the awareness, she is no longer here. I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. I have missed my mother in various seasons over the years but it has been a long time that I felt pain.

The ache lingers and I find myself repeatedly touching the same place between my ribs, an unconscious attempt to self-soothe. So I take a deep breath and then another, the self-soothing now an intentional act. I am missing my mother and grieving as I have not in a while.

I paused in my writing to sit with and breathe through the sadness. Realized later that the base of my left hand was pressing against that spot on my chest that the tips of my left fingers had touched earlier. In addition, my right hand had come to cover my left so that both hands were folded against my chest palms down. Words can take us places unexpectedly.

Touch

The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2, records that God spoke everything into existence, except man. We are told that He formed man out of the dust of the earth and later formed woman from one of man’s ribs. The process implies touch was involved in this aspect of creation.

I am thinking of the fact that during His physical sojourn on earth, Jesus touched several individuals while performing miracles. For example, when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22-24, 35-43), He took her by the hand and then spoke to her. We know His spoken word was all that was necessary for the miraculous to occur: consider the deliverance of the demon possessed man (Mark 5) and the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11). Jesus, after all, is the Word made flesh.

The leper, whose story is told in Matthew 8, had an experience similar to Jairus’ daughter but his was also unique. The Bible does not tell us how long he was afflicted with leprosy but the nature of the disease meant he had been exiled from his loved ones, and very likely had not been touched by anyone except another leper for a while. Imagine not being touched by anyone for years.

Dacher Keltner, in his article, “Hands On Research: The Science of Touch,”* notes that day to day gestures that we typically take for granted, for example, patting someone on the back, “are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.” In addition, he notes that research has documented that touch produces extraordinary emotional and physical health benefits, and is essential “to human communication, bonding, and health.”

As noted above, Jesus could have just spoken the words of healing to the leper, but He touched him before He spoke the words that made the leper’s body whole. I am convinced that Jesus’ touch must have felt to him like water does to someone parched with thirst. Jesus’ words healed his body but I suspect that His touch healed the man’s spirit of the various deep wounds such as those inflicted by the rejection, fear, and cruelty of others. If Dacher Keltner could interview the leper, the leper would personally validate the research finding that, “touch produces extraordinary emotional and physical health benefits.”

* http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research