Article in “The Reporter”
Lansdale, PA - March 18, 2023
Make me an instrument of your peace
How vulnerable are you willing to be? That's one of the biggest questions that we can ask ourselves, in part, because it flies in the face of what the world messages us each day. “Power through!” “Be strong!” “You got this!” “Never let 'em see you sweat!” These signs of our times appear as declarations of war rather than compassionate responses to troubles faced by many.
Don't get me wrong; strength, courage and support take many forms and are offered in a myriad of ways. The problem is that we sometimes offer only an emotionally and spiritually selective option at the expense of a holistic one.
I have been spending quite some time, lately, with the Prayer of Saint Francis. I have always loved this familiar prayer and the path of St. Francis echoes in my soul. For, not only is it a plaintive cry in times of solitude, it is an outline for a meaningful life; it is a prayer or an intention that can be offered by any person of any belief or disbelief. Holy words for a holy life for all people seeking meaning and goodness for the world and for themselves.
This prayer is a plea for a way of life lived in contrast to the ways of the world, too often offered up by the media to the masses with little thought as to the outcome. These thoughtful words are an antidote to the self-centered and angry voices that exist on both sides of the tables around which we gather. “…Make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love…” These are words for the strong and courageous and they are not to be taken lightly. They represent one of the biggest challenges we can undertake – especially in a world filled with violence. The prayer continues, “…Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console…” – words that demand a change in attitude for most of us at our most tragic moments.
I often see this prayer, in its entirety, printed on the back of memorial cards, distributed at funerals and end-of-life services. But these are words to live by, words that are sent to the heavens as requests for transformation. They are more than expressions of simple sentimentality at the closing of our days. Can we really take these words in so that they reach deep within us and radically transform our hearts, minds and spirits? Can we experience this change in our very cells?
Might we be able to take the next step towards spiritual maturity and let this prayer flow through us and out into the world in a meaningful and real way? For lifting up each other's burdens, healing our planet and all its creatures, honoring all as we honor ourselves and our Maker is the sacred work we are called to do. Perhaps this prayer is our true GPS, our North Star and our Guiding Light when it is lifted off the page in full voice and heart.
Can we, through our new-found vulnerability, and with this newly purposed prayer, seek out new paths of healing and holiness? Make me an instrument of your peace. Yes! You got this! Really!
The Reverend Dr. Deborah Darlington can be reached at GraceMatters@TheSpaceForGrace.com.