Thursday, April 10, 2008

Make Me An Instrument

Throughout my life I have been drawn to the thoughts and writings of Saint Frances of Assisi. I often meditate on a prayer of his (The Prayer of Saint Frances). More often than not I fail to meet it’s gracious intent. But failing to meet it’s standard is no reason to move too far away from it’s purpose. A few weeks ago a co-worker of mine came across the prayer in a book of poetry she was reading to a class we conduct together. She read the prayer to me, and as always, it made me want to dig deeper, to be more conscious of my shortcomings, and more determined in my quest for personal and spiritual equilibrium.

Other than ‘The Lords Prayer’ (Our Father who art in heaven. . . . . . .), it is probably the most profound and significant prayer ever written. Certainly the most well known. And yet, as I look at the condition of the world today, it is quite obvious that it is also a prayer that has largely gone ‘un-prayed’. There are those who live this prayer (whether they actually say the words or not), and there are those who don’t. If it is the motive and intent of our hearts that really matters in this life, then this is a prayer to embrace. I am one who believes that we become the embodiment of the practices we live and the ideals that we hold close.

Some may regard this as a religious, or a Christian prayer. I do not. It is a prayer of assimilation, of reconciliation, of integration with the divine, and with the greater family of man-kind. I consider it to be a plea for help in becoming thoughtful, magnanimous, vital, valuable and purposeful human beings. I have long believed that anyone in a position of influence or leadership would be well served to take these sentiments to heart. Every politician, every minister, every poet, songwriter, performer and teacher would be of far greater value to those in their sphere of influence if they had the courage and inclination to do so.

What if everybody stopped protecting themselves, dropped their pretensions and insecurities, stopped trying to impress one another with style over substance, with gossip over understanding, with exaggeration over accomplishment, with image over honesty? What if everybody had the motivation to pray

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

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.”

Share this prayer with those you love,
and those whom you consider to be your friends.