Although most of our staff at Lynchburg College works through the summer, the slightly slower pace does allow for a somewhat saner rhythm to each day and a bit more time for reflection. In the midst of completing annual reports and planning for the new year, I’ve been able to muse a bit about where I am spiritually as we transition from one academic year to another. I find myself trying to balance a realistic appraisal of the pain and struggle I see in the world around me and a still hopeful appreciation and gratitude for the joy and beauty that is also present in people and places all over the planet. A helpful and instructional guide, as I navigate these seeming disparate realities, is the Peace Prayer, commonly attributed to St. Francis, though actually from a still anonymous source.
I offer this spiritual resource once again with brief commentary that seems relevant for our current times.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. If I pray for peace, I must be willing to take responsibility for being an agent of peace in my own life and in my own corner of the world.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love. When my heart feels broken by hateful words or actions either towards others or me, I can choose to share loving words and actions in my own relationships
Where there is injury, pardon. Forgiveness is a journey that ultimately will be healing for my own heart. I can take one baby step towards being more forgiving towards myself as well as those that have harmed me, if and when my heart is ready to do so.
Where there is doubt, faith.I can try to embrace the mystery of all life even when so much around me seems to make no sense in the present moment. I can trust the process of life unfolding.
Where there is despair, hope. In the midst of all the bad news that surrounds me I will spend at least equal time seeking out the good news and celebrating every small act of positivity and progress.
Where there is darkness, light. I will recognize that each of us have within us a sacred light if we choose to radiate it and that doing so actually makes a difference when all around us may feel dark and difficult
Where there is sadness, joy. If joy is indeed the infallible sign of the presence of God, I can acknowledge the sorrow that may surround me while also expressing freely and openly a sense of glee and delight at the wonders of the Divine Creation which are also all around me.
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. Help me to practice the platinum rule by treating others as THEY would want to be treated. Help me to empathetically seek to understand what might be going on in their own lives and then respond accordingly.
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. May I celebrate the irony of life that my attempts and efforts to be of service and care to others often results in my feeling served and cared for in return.
As we begin this summer season, perhaps we can take even one aspect of the peace prayer to heart. A simple spiritual practice of referring frequently to a specific phrase throughout each day may bear unexpected fruit in our lives and in our world. Seems worth the effort to at least try. Will you join me in a collective effort to more and more become instruments of God’s peace today and in the days ahead? I hope so and I look forward to experiencing the positive results of our common striving for harmony and wholeness.