Wednesday, April 18, 2018

St. Francis Prayer ~ take five


We want to plant ourselves in peace.
We long to let love be the fruit that grows from our words.
We long to let pardon be a practice we engage in for the sake of ourselves and the world.
We long to let faith be the verb that feeds and fuels our lives.

Five posts into this prayer, we can start to feel overwhelmed.  This is a lot.  This runs counter to what seems to come naturally and normally to us.  It can feel like "oughts" and "shoulds" that shut down dialogue rather than encounter it.

Or, in short, we might feel some despair.  Again, it is important to say that despair need not be the opposite of hope, but an element of hope.  Hope is not some prize we can tightly cling to or control.  Emily Dickenson was right, "Hope is a thing with feathers."  That phrase means hope is flighty and free and far from our ability to force it to conform or contort to our way.  Hope will visit us, we pray it might even reside within us, but it is not something we can pick up at the grocery store.  Hope enters in unannounced, with serendipitous surprises. 

Part of my concern is that you might be reading all these posts thinking, "Well, I guess I just have to try harder...or do more."  We make faith out to be some prize or trophy.  Instead, faith is active, living, and growing.  Like a plant, we can shape its growth, but cannot force it.  I cannot will my tomato plant to grow faster.  I can water it.  I can tend it.  But it takes time.  So, while there are things I can do, there are also places I need to let God be the gardener ~ tending and teaching me how to be in the world.

Hope comes as a guest.
Hope knocks softly...patiently...persistently.
Hope comes in unexpectedly, unannounced, and will sit quietly.
Hope is around.
But like waves of water;
Like air currents
Like the butterfly that just landed on the flower outside,
I can't control.
I can only receive the trace of grace
Also called, "Hope."

Amen.

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