Track: One by Nobuto Suda
RIGHT BY MY GOD
In keeping with last weeks conversation about the value of “prayers of surrender,” I’ve paraphrased a well-known one found in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius (Iñigo López de Loyola) was a Catholic priest from the 15th century who co-founded the Society of Jesus (known better as the Jesuits).
Lord, by your grace …
My central desire will no longer be on my physical well-being –
whether I’m healthy or sick.
It will no longer be on my economic well-being –
whether I’m wealthy or poor.
It will no longer be on my self-image –
whether I’m a success or failure in my own eyes or the eyes of the world.
I even put away my desire to have a long life rather than a short one.
I understand — and pray to understand more! — that
everything around me and everything that happens to me in this life
can draw out a more loving response to You.
So let my only desire, my one choice be this:
to want and choose what leads to your divine life taking deeper root in me.
(Principle and Foundation, SE 23)
RIGHT BY MY NEIGHBOR
I’ve been routinely praying for my neighbors during this Lenten season. So I was alert when a neighbor across the street, whom I haven’t talked to in maybe a year, walked over to me yesterday as I was raking my deceased neighbor’s yard. We chatted, exchanged phone numbers, and then I asked him how the Covid-19 response is affecting him. I found out he’s a musician who relies on evening gigs. And to supplement his income, he goes to public library branches where he teaches children about snakes and lets them handle the snakes he owns. But all that’s gone now. The governor of Ohio has ordered all restaurants and bars to shut down for an indefinite period. And the Public Library in Columbus has discontinued events like his. So no more gigs or teaching events for my neighbor. Zero income for my friend.
And then on a balmy day this week, I opened my office window for fresh air and heard a car drive up. A moment later I heard a man talking to one of my other neighbors. He was giving her written notice of being behind on her mortgage. That was painful to hear, and the conversation keeps replaying in my mind. I’m praying about how to respond.
There’s world of need and hurt all around us, and in the coming days that will only get amplified. What does increased charity toward your neighbors look like for you during this time of fear and isolation? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray. We must never forget that Jesus touched lepers. (Mark 1.41).
bless those to my left and right, those in front and behind.
Bend my mind and heart toward them in ways that please you.
Bring them to mind and nudge me to pray for them.
Help me notice your invitations to love, Holy Spirit.
Give me grace and courage to respond as you lead.
May my neighbors thrive in all the ways that matter to you, Lord. Amen.
“ … we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics [with the awe and the circumspection proper to them]. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit. ... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
RIGHT BY MYSELF
I’ve been thinking more about technology and noticing the ways it has changed me. I think I greatly underestimate how profound that change has been, but I know some of what I’ve lost and find myself wanting to reclaim it. Despite my occasional wish to go back to a simpler time, a less interruptible and distracted period, I can only find my way forward in the world I actually have, not the one I wish I had. This is a small matter for God.
One way forward is with news. We know that news media say they’re working hard to inform us, to give us what’s important, but the only way they can keep us coming back is to intensify the itch of fear or anger or curiosity or desire … and then present themselves as the very sources to scratch us for relief. Pushers. We tell ourselves we’re being responsible citizens by staying in the know, but I seriously doubt that any of us are more virtuous because of our daily news feeds. Addicts. I once quit almost all forms of news for months on end, and when I came back nothing “out there” had fundamentally changed. Some of the old fools on the stage had disappeared but new ones had taken their places, and their voices were eerily similar in tone: whiney, accusing, offended, self-righteous, pompous, angry, etc. The only important and welcome change was the one I observed in myself. I felt more free.
Could you consider fasting from fear? Could you consider scaling back severely or cutting off altogether the endless updates of death tolls both here and in far-flung lands, of the rising number of confirmed cases, of speculation about unconfirmed cases, of runs on stores and hoarding, of institutional shut-downs? Maybe this kind of fast is the best way to love yourself and cultivate a quiet and trusting heart. Let the Spirit be your guide here as in all matters.
Lord, you have taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
But I confess that I often do a poor job of loving myself.
I'm often confused or apathetic about what's best for me.
So teach me this love, dear Lord.
Give me the courage and grace to clean and declutter this temple you so dearly love and inhabit.
And may I eagerly receive the good you have to offer me in exchange. Amen.
Reflection by David Nixon, Sustainable Faith
I pray that this reflection moves us toward love. I look forward to connecting with you all tomorrow on our call as we discuss these prayers and what it looks like to attend to the work of Love in our lives.
See you soon!
MARCH 22 @ 5PM // ZOOM CALL
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