This prayer is a response prayer to go with the “Furious Prayer for the Church….” by Brian Doyle, novelist, essayist, and poet.
Furious Prayer for the Church I Love and Have Always Loved but Which Drives Me Insane with Its Fussy Fidgety Prim Tin-Eared Thirst for Control and Rules and Power and Money Rather Than the One Simple Thing the Founder Insisted On
Granted, it’s a tough assignment, the original assignment. I get that. Love—Lord help us, could we not have been assigned something easier, like astrophysics or quantum mechanics? But no—love those you cannot love. READ MORE
from A Book of Uncommon Prayer: 100 Celebrations of the Miracle & Muddle of the Ordinary. (Sorin Books: Notre Dame, Indiana) c.2014
Companion and Companioning Prayer for Clergy, Lay-leaders and Caregivers to Guide Us in Navigating the Tough Assignment.
By Lynn M. Acquafondata
I want the cheat sheet, Lord, the one with specific things to say and do in all the possible situations I might face while taking on your tough assignment, the one about Love. I want the words of wisdom that will offer comfort to those who are poor, broken and abused, and the tongue biting techniques when facing critical, angry and defensive people. And the ways to see beyond the venom to the hurt and fear in the depths of their hearts…well, not just their hearts, but mine too. Most days it sounds like an impossible task.
How do I carry out this love in the face of the unpredictable, the uncomfortable, the irrational. How do I love in the face of injustice? How did you do it, Lord? I mean really, other than being God. In a practical sense, how did you make it through all the gut-wrenching physical and emotional agony? How did you face the deliberate misunderstanding, the ridicule, the betrayal by those who loved you? How did you keep loving when you saw people crumbling your dream to pieces before your eyes?
You didn’t say much on the subject. Only that one phrase, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” I don’t imagine you want us to hate anybody or hurt anybody. So if we really think about those words and your intention, are you implying we have to love ourselves first? Because if that’s what you mean, then are you saying that when I am poor, hurting, sick and ashamed, when I have failed and I am afraid… that I shouldn’t beat myself up and condemn myself. Are you saying I need to love myself, treat myself with care and respect? Are you saying you want me to accept your forgiveness of me, and even consider forgiving myself? Is that truly what you mean or I am missing something? Is it that if I don’t do this for myself I won’t be able to extend it to others?
Extending to others, that’s what love is all about, but now that I think of it, the Rabbi wasn’t always out healing and teaching people. He often walked away and went off by himself. Why? Was this some kind of self-care that allowed him the capacity to keep on healing? When he was by himself he often prayed. Sometimes he even cried out to God in agony. He ended those prayers by bowing his head and saying, “Thy Will be done.” Each time, he returned to his work knowing he was not alone. Does loving others mean going off by myself, sometimes to remember that I am not alone?
You know, Lord, I notice something else too. You didn’t try to meet everyone’s needs. What was that about? You could have healed all of those crowds of people yourself. Couldn’t you? But instead you gathered others to work with you. You healed together, then went off as a group to teach and learn and support each other. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” You didn’t take all the responsibility for healing on yourself. Sometimes you stepped back and let others step forward. If I follow your example will my love extend both inward and outward? Is this the wisdom you tried to share with us Lord? Thy will be done in me. Amen.