Lenten Journey 5: In death … is life.

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Lenten Journeys

FOR LENT 2013, ReadTheSpirit has two offerings for you:

1.) DAVID CRUMM’S ‘Our Lent’ Thousands of readers have enjoyed the day-by-day book of inspiring stories, Our Lent: Things We Carry.

2.) LENTEN JOURNEY The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt, author of Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins & Guide for Caregivers is publishing a new Lenten series:
Part 1: Introduction and ‘Deep Calls to Deep’

Part 2: ‘Rituals & Practices (and Flowing Water)’

Part 3: Surprised? Or, is this an invitation to a blessing?
Part 4: Legacy of imperfection and grace.

5: In death … is life.

By the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt

THIS MORNING I WITNESSED IT—and I cannot keep it to myself. As often as we may see this in the natural world, the experience is riveting. Some truths we do not face easily.

Something must die for us to live.

That’s a fact. An axiom. A truth of nature: In death is life. This process unfolds all around us all the time, as simple as arising each day and eating breakfast—even our cereal was once a green and thriving plant.

So, there I stand, looking out the window, pondering the new day, enjoying a squirrel grazing beneath our feeders. Plumping himself against the winter chill; munching on grains as I had. Chickadees, Sparrows, Cardinals, Wrens peck at these kernels of life that we provide in our backyard buffet. As they crowd our feeders, they scatter an overflow on the squirrel’s head. Even a Downy Woodpcker’s sweet suet bits cascade over this fortunate grazer. Bounty showering all around him, he munches in fat contentment.

Then, a flash.

The birds explode from the feeders—gone—which is what I chiefly notice, at first. Until I realize the squirrel is gone as well. Where? I did see it unfold, I realize. The hawk shot down with talons and beak poised for the strike.

Now, I see that hawk lifting him almost softly—softly to my eyes. The squirrel utters one, short, sharp, final squeak. Soaring to a broad tree limb—50 feet above the fray. I witness a meal that will steel this regal hawk against the winter chill.

The danger past, the other birds return to the feeders one by one. Soon that colorful community is restored. But I cannot turn my eyes from the tree branch. I cannot help but watch—like catching a glimpse in my mind’s eye of myself in a coffin.

We say: In death is life. We know it. But, this is a hard truth, isn’t it? I sit down and jot this prayer, which I share with you today:

O Lord, I eat flesh and I eat grains.
All die that I may live.
This is not a prayer of guilty confession;
I pray in humble thanksgiving today.
Grant me awareness to undergird my choices:
Turn my competition and violence,
Toward stewardship and compassion,
Toward justice, kindness, mercy
And thanks for the promise of life.

.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

This column also has been posted to the website of the Day1 radio network.

Lenten Journey: Surprised? Or, an invitation to blessing?

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Lenten Journeys

MILLIONS around the world are making the pilgrimage of Lent.
For Lent 2013, ReadTheSpirit has two offerings for you:

1.) DAVID CRUMM’S ‘OUR LENT’ Thousands of readers have enjoyed ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm’s day-by-day book of Lenten stories, called Our Lent: Things We Carry.

2.) OUR INTIMATE LENTEN JOURNEY The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt has written books on wrestling with temptations (Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins) and on helping others (Guide for Caregivers).
For Lent, we are publishing Dr. Pratt’s once-a-week series …

Part 1: Introduction and ‘Deep Calls to Deep’
Part 2: ‘Rituals & Practices (and Flowing Water)’

3: Surprised? Of course.
Or, is this an invitation to blessing?

By the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt

IT WAS 7 A.M. I had just taken the first sip of coffee when the phone rang. She said, “My father died during the night. The hospice nurse called me about an hour ago. My rabbi has very young children and I don’t want to disturb them by calling his house this early. I knew you would be up. Will you say the Lord’s Prayer with me and the 23rd Psalm?”

Surprised! But, I understood what she was asking. I knew that Jewish and Muslim prayer both have parallels to what we Christians call the Lord’s Prayer. She was graciously asking for prayer in my terms. I managed to say, “I am sorry to hear that your father died. I am honored that you have asked me to pray with you.”

I wasn’t fully awake; I stumbled more than she did. But, we prayed the prayer and recited the Psalm together. Then we were quiet for a few moments.

“I am very grateful,” she said. “I feel much quieter now—comforted. Thank you.”

I learned much in my training as a hospital chaplain, then in my years as a pastor and pastoral counselor. I learned that each of us yearns for respectful presence and hospitality from another person. We deeply hunger to be seen and valued with dignity. When a person is in need, their race, gender, ethnicity and religious creed are not foremost—he or she wants person-to-person caring presence.

The truth for all of us: We may be called upon at any time, especially at times we least expect it. We should aspire to be ready to welcome people as they are—wherever we are—and then to find the blessing in that encounter.

Once, in a foreign country, my wife and I were dining in a sidewalk café. The food was excellent and each table was filled. Judith commented on her delicious dish when the woman next to her, having overheard, chimed in with similar enthusiasm for her tasty dinner. Before long Judith and the woman were chatting and comparing recipes while the man and I were talking. He is a long haul trucker who was visiting his girl friend. We talked about the differences in our countries, and I was inquisitive about the life of a trucker. He was quite willing to share the hardships and pleasures of his work. He asked about my work. I told him I am a retired minister and he looked startled.

Then he asked: “Will you please bless me?”

Startled—but I said, “Yes.” He closed his eyes and I crafted a brief blessing based on what he had shared about his life over the last half hour. When finished, I looked in his face. He kept his eyes shut and he was quiet. A tear suddenly formed and ran down his cheek.

“Thank you,” he said as he opened his eyes. “I really needed that. I think I must have been lead to meet you tonight.”

I said, “You have blessed me also. Thank you.”

We may be surprised anywhere. One day, my wife and I were grocery shopping. She had the list, and we were checking it twice. At one point, she said, “I need olives,” and I responded that I would go find them. I turned.

“I need olives, too,” said a nicely dressed older gentleman who had overheard us. We stepped off in the same direction and searched for the right aisle.

Then, yes, he surprised me. “You take good care of that woman, young man,” he said. “My wife of 56 years died two weeks ago and I’m shopping here for the first time alone.”

Ten minutes later we still hadn’t found the olives when my wife found us. But that didn’t matter because I had learned all about his wonderful wife and him. He needed someone to listen and be present. I was the one who found an unexpected blessing that day.

This week, my prayer for you is simple:

May God surprise you, too.

.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

This column also has been posted via the website for the Day1 radio network.

Lenten Journey: Rituals, practices (and flowing water)

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Lenten Journeys

CLICK THE COVER to learn more about this book and to read sample chapters.MILLIONS around the world are making the pilgrimage of Lent.
For Lent 2013, ReadTheSpirit has two offerings for you:

1.) DAVID CRUMM’S ‘OUR LENT’

Thousands of readers have enjoyed ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm’s day-by-day book of Lenten stories, called Our Lent: Things We Carry. Now, you can enjoy this updated second edition.

2.) JOIN OUR INTIMATE LENTEN JOURNEY

The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt is the author of books on wrestling with temptations (Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins and 007’s Moral Compass) and on helping others (Guide for Caregivers).
For Lent, we are publishing Dr. Pratt’s once-a-week series …

Part 1: Introduction and ‘Deep Calls to Deep’

Part 2, Rituals & Practices:
Because Water Always Flows …

By the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt

Water Flowing West and East: The top photo today shows water flowing along a stream in southern California. This bottom photo shows water flowing through the marshes of Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay.THEY LAUGHED AT ME. I didn’t like that at all—I didn’t think they understood. I had told the other kids at the baseball diamond that I was better as a batter and pitcher because I practiced certain rituals. I always held the bat with trade mark up, out in front of me, and stared at the mark for a moment before I tapped two corners of the plate with the bat. To prove the efficacy of this little ritual, I held a trophy for batting .500 as a switch hitter in Little League.

My rituals for pitching were even more elaborate. To ensure my accuracy with the ball, I would grasp it firmly and walk in one direction around the mound—touching my cap twice as I walked. The other kids laughed and said I was just superstitious, but I knew this was my secret to success in the game.

You may be smiling yourself, but I think we live in a ritual-starved society. As an adult, some of my carefully observed customs keep me focused, grateful, connected, pulled into the moment, hopeful for the future. They add to my capacity to be a presence to my wife, my family and friends, and, especially, to strangers. Rituals give rhythm and familiarity to an otherwise chaotic day. They help me be a better player in life.

What are your rituals?

Here are a few of mine: I cover my heart during our National Anthem. It grounds me. Every morning, I always sing a song of gratitude—regardless of the weather—as I walk down my driveway to retrieve the morning newspaper. I have expanded that ritual and now hum a tune of thanks any time I stroll down our driveway.

I begin each day with some portion of the prayer of St. Francis—expressing my heart-felt yearning that I shall be made an instrument of peace, hope, love or comfort. If I hear an emergency siren, at any point during my day, I pause in silence to ask for compassion and healing for the responder and the one in need.

Sometimes, I add to this diet of rituals and practices that enrich my life. I just picked up a new one, when my wife and I visited Turkey to tour some of the world’s most important sacred sites. I came home with a ritual so simple that many of our companions missed it.

For our last three nights in Turkey, we stayed in a glitzy boutique hotel with a modern gloss that stood in stark contrast to the sites we had traveled so far to see. But, as we departed, something happened in stark contrast to the hotel’s décor. The hour was 3:30 a.m., when most of us were not inclined to pay attention to the young man lugging our suitcases onto a bus bound for the airport—and home.

After packing the bus, the young man took a minute to draw a pitcher of water from a tap in the hotel. As we prepared to depart in many directions, he poured out the water onto our roadway. It splashed on the pavement.

Why had he done this? I learned that it was a common ritual in that part of the world, bidding us auspicious travels wherever we were destined—because water always flows where it needs to go.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

This column has also been posted at the website for the Day1 radio network.

Join in an Intimate Lenten Journey that leads us home

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Lenten Journeys

U.S. Navy men and women participate in an Ash Wednesday service aboard the USS Wasp in the Atlantic Ocean. Electronics Technician 3rd Class Leila Tardieu receives the sacramental ashes from a chaplain. (U.S. Navy photo by Brian May released for public use.)

CLICK THE COVER to learn more about this book and to read sample chapters.MILLIONS OF MEN and WOMEN around the world begin the journey of Lent this week with Ash Wednesday. When Eastern Orthodox Christians begin their Great Lent, starting a few weeks later this year, a total of more than 2 billion souls will share this journey toward new life.
THIS YEAR, ReadTheSpirit has two, inspiring offerings for Lent:

1.) DAVID CRUMM’S UPDATED
‘OUR LENT: THINGS WE CARRY’

Thousands of readers around the world have enjoyed ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm’s day-by-day book of Lenten stories, called Our Lent: Things We Carry. Small groups and even entire congregations have enjoyed “group reads” of the book, discussing it week by week. Now, you can enjoy this updated second edition. CLICK on the book cover, at right, to learn more about the stories in this book. On that book page, links in the left margin invite you to read the book’s Preface, Table of Contents, and Sample Chapter. Purchasing a copy of OurLent helps to support ReadTheSpirit’s ongoing work.

2.) COME ALONG! JOIN US IN THIS INTIMATE LENTEN JOURNEY …

One of our most popular columnists and authors is the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt, a retired pastoral counselor who published books on wrestling with temptations (Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins and 007’s Moral Compass) as well as helping others (Guide for Caregivers). His online columns are free for you to share with others (if you credit Dr. Pratt and readthespirit.com as the source). In addition, many of his columns are shared with the website of the Day1 radio network.
For Lent 2013, we are proud to publish Dr. Pratt’s once-a-week series …

Intimate Lenten Journey: Introduction …

By the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt

One of the earliest portraits of Jesus Christ still in existence. A Roman-era mosaic now in the British Museum. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.HOLIDAYS ARE HISTORY. That’s the way most of us approach the ancient traditions and family customs that we love to repeat each year. But, the year-long cycle of Christian holidays are much more than that. These seasons are timeless, yet they also are very clear invitations to affirm our personal journey as God’s people.

In Advent, we start the yearly cycle by preparing to receive the Lord, coming into this world to accompany us. Jesus is born at Christmas, but it is also the season to celebrate our own birth into the faith. Epiphany is more than just a historical memory of three Magi bringing gifts to honor this babe. Epiphany is an invitation for each of us to affirm the gifts we bring to the table shared by all of God’s people. By the time we reach Lent each year, we have jumped through more than three decades of Jesus’ life and the world’s two billion Christians recall Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem.

Lent is history, but it also is the most intimate invitation to men and women to journey in the Way of Jesus—the way of compassion, love, peace, hope, joy and forgiveness.

There is enormous loss and spectacular hope in Lent. And, each year, we all are invited to share our own losses and hopes as we journey together with each other and with Jesus toward the crescendo of Easter. That’s why these annual holidays and festivals have lasted for 2,000 years. That’s why, today, 1 in 3 people walking the Earth claims to be Christian and will in some way mark the Lenten journey. This is history, yes—but it also is an intimate invitation every year. “Intimacy is our capacity for closeness and tenderness in moments of risky self-disclosure,” says Father Richard Rohr, whom we just welcomed into the pages of this online magazine.

Each week during Lent, I will share some intimate stories—with an emphasis on that word “share.” I want you to feel free to share my stories with others. And I hope that my stories will prompt you to remember and share your own stories that are part of this journey. Perhaps you might carry these columns into your small group and invite people to discuss them. You will discover that the hallowed places I plan to take you in these six weeks are well-trod ground for many people. Perhaps they are hallowed ground you recognize.

This year, proclaim to the world that Lent and Easter are history, sure enough—but they also are personal invitations to journey together. Come along with me?

An Intimate Lenten Journey, Part 1:
Generation Calls to Generation; Deep Calls to Deep

THIS ROMAN-ERA CREMATORY URN, uncovered by archaeologists and dated to about 2,000 years ago was accompanied by a second smaller container to its right, apparently a vessel containing a gift of something precious to accompany the departed. Photo by Robert Valette, released for public use.‘TWAS A GRACIOUS OFFER we extended to the family—as so many grandparents do. We thought about it carefully, then waited for an appropriate gathering of the whole gang and announced: “We are getting old and will soon leave our home of many years. We want each of you grandchildren to choose some things to remind you of life with us.”

They stared at us for a moment, pondering this strange invitation. We could see them thinking through the meaning of what they had just heard. But, after questions, hugs, consoling grins and sighs—they took us at our word.

Finally, the respectful question came back to us: “What should we pick?” So, the walk began—all around our old house. What fun for my wife and me! I am known as “PopPop,” the patriarch over this gang of grandchildren. And soon PopPop was happily explaining the connections and personal history that oozes from every picture, pot, post and table—the collage of memories that drapes our home.

As the tales flowed, their pencils moved, making lists that included antique pictures where no one smiles back, a page from a 1611 Bible, Civil War bullet castings, pie-top and drop-leaf tables, rope beds—and even modern art. Clearly, they were excited by all of these offerings. We assured them that no request was out of bounds.

That is when a 9-year-old boy surprised us. He said: “I want PopPop’s ashes. That’s my first choice. That way, I can always have him close and talk with him.”

Nervous chuckles erupted from the others—uncertain what to say—and then gentle teasing and flat-out joking about how and where my ashes should, one day, be stored.

Soon, I could see that 9-year-old boy needed a hug to reassure him that his sincere question wasn’t being dismissed. I whispered in his ear: “I like your choice.”

I heard his question as he meant it: I don’t want to be without him; he doesn’t want to be without me. As in families around the world, we had cared for each other, laughed with each other, shared stories, comforted each other when sick. We had giggled, danced, read, laughed, played, wrestled, snuggled, talked about God and girls. He knows my love. I know his love.

And so this request: “I want PopPop’s ashes.”

And in that request was the truth so unvarnished and hard-edged: I shall leave him before he leaves me. It is in the nature of families. It is in the nature of relationships when the circle of friends realizes that one—perhaps even the leader of the whole big gang—is destined to leave first.

Just a 9-year-old boy, but the question was crystal clear.

Across the generations, his deep was calling to my deep.

AND FROM PSALM 42 …

AS A DEER longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.

 

When shall I come and behold
the face of God?

My soul is cast down within me …
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.

 

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

Richard Rohr: Anam Cara, soul friend, to thousands

In this photo, Richard talks with a group in person. However, he speaks to far larger crowds via daily digital messages.RICHARD ROHR greets thousands of friends via his Daily Meditations. Visit his Center for Action and Contemplation website and you can join those friends via the Daily Meditations sign-up box—on the right-hand side of the webpage. To convey the importance of this aspect of his ministry, ReadTheSpirit invited the Rev. John Emmert, a semi-retired Episcopal priest from Pennsylvania to describe what these short messages from Richard represent in his life. John follows his own discipline of prayer, meets regularly with friends and colleagues to talk about faith and occasionally serves in local parishes. Richard’s notes have made a difference in all of those phases of John’s life. Here’s how …

Small Differences:
Thanking Richard Rohr

BY THE REV. JOHN EMMERT

ALTHOUGH RICHARD ROHR is a prolific writer, I must admit I have never read one of his books. I know him only through his daily messages from his Center for Contemplation and Action. I no longer remember exactly who brought these daily gems of inspiration to my attention, but they have become anticipated touchstones of theology and thoughtfulness that I would miss more than my morning coffee.

They are short—never more than a paragraph or two: an idea, a reminder of a Christian season or celebration, a reflection on a sentence or two of scripture, development of a weekly theme. A few words that set a tone or raise an issue—personal, ecclesiastical, vocational, life-style—that more often than not lead to small changes of thinking and living. The impact of his wisdom accumulates quite significantly. I cannot count the number of times these inspirational pieces “coincidentally” touch a theme I am pondering with a friend or colleague, and influence our discussion, a decision and an action.

They are pithy, but practical. I’ve tried to think of a general descriptor, but none is quite adequate: “Where-the-rubber-meets-the-road” theology? A coincidence of exegesis and praxis? Where heart-mind-body-and spirit/Spirit touch? Where presence and Presence animate one another?

They are Catholic, in the very best sense of that word (as we use it in the creeds). They are also beyond Catholic. They reach for the Mystery that all religious language and experience aspires to touch, yet never quite adequately does—except that not to have tried would be so much the worse.

They are “old”—vintage, richly aged and time-tested truths. But “new” and fresh and re-born, with a twist or side-ways glance, that either opens my eyes (or narrows them), as I try to see more clearly, more deeply yet again.

CLICK THE IMAGE to visit the website for Richard’s Center.Sometimes they are visual, as the picture of a “Young Madonna” to illustrate “Mary, the Prepared One.” The Daily Meditations used that striking photo of a young Mexican girl each day for a week in Advent. I pulled it up on my I-pad, and passed it around the congregation as we contemplated the image of a teen-age Mary, offering herself as Theotokos.

I have tried to find a niche for Richard—a person I’ve never met, who yet now occupies a place of Anam Cara, soul friend, in my life. I think he reminds me of Merton, even more Nouwen. I recall another Advent piece on “Learning to Receive” in which Richard remarked on Mary’s “fertility and fruitfulness” in contrast to our culture’s productiveness, a theme I first heard many years ago from Nouwen. So, Gordon Cosby, Madeline L’Engle, Elizabeth O’Connor, Eugene Peterson, Jim Wallis, Steven Charleston—name your own roster of speakers and livers of Truth and Wisdom. So, thanks be for such Grace-bearers and sharers; Richard is now included in my list.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

Richard Rohr: Ancient prayer of hope for Resurrection

CLICK THE BOOK COVER to visit its Amazon page.IN RICHARD ROHR’S new book Immortal Diamond, he ends with a prayer from an ancient liturgy used by Christians on the eve of Easter—the church’s great celebration of resurrection.

Rohr introduces the final prayer this way:

Many Christians begin Lent on Ash Wednesday with the signing of ashes on their forehead and the words from Genesis 3:19, which is just the first shocking part of the message: “Dust you are, and unto dust you shall return.”

But then we should be anointed (“Christed”) with a holy oil on Easter morning with the other half of the message: “Love is always stronger than death, and unto the love you have now returned.”

Then, Rohr adds these ancient lines, which are spoken as if God is calling the dead to new life:

O Sleeper,
to Awake!

“I ORDER YOU, O SLEEPER, to awake!
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, you were created in my image.
Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Together we form only one person and we cannot be separated!”

Care to read more?

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD ROHR: This prayer’s theme is central to Richard Rohr’s newest book—and you can learn much more about Immortal Diamond in our inteview with him.

READ THE ENTIRE ANCIENT TEXT: The Vatican website publishes the entire much-longer reading in a slightly different English translation, that traditionally is used on Holy Saturday. The portion Richard Rohr excerpts appears as the fifth paragraph of the longer Vatican text.

A Prayer for Light in Dark Times of Accidie

CLICK THE BOOK COVER to learn more about Fleming’s spiritual themes in the James Bond novels, including much more about the challenge of accidie.AS THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE passes through the darkest season, pastoral counselor and author Dr. Benjamin Pratt shares a prayer that helps us take a first tentative step from accidie. That may sound like a strange new term, but it is a classic part of Christian teaching on the so-called 7 Deady Sins.

In addition to his current work helping caregivers nationwide—Dr. Pratt is a scholar of Ian Fleming’s literary works. Most of the Hollywood 007 blockbusters skip over the theme of accidie. But, Fleming wrote the original Bond novels to explore what he argued were the deadliest sins of our modern age. If this is news to you, then you will enjoy Dr. Pratt’s Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins & 007’s Moral Compass.

Dr. Pratt explains:

This prayer reflects the nature of one of the original 7 Deadly Sins, accidie, which was translated in the Middle Ages as sloth or torpor. This is a spiritual condition and is distinctly different from depression. In accidie, we loose all energy for engaging the world. The needs, the goals and even the good and the evil around us do not matter enough to inspire any action.

In the Ian Fleming novels, James Bond often struggles with this sin. It was the word accidie that first drew me to serious study of these novels and the life of their creator. The word accidie appears in eleven of the fourteen Bond tales and is central to understanding James Bond—as well as the dangerous powers of the most evil demons 007 pursues. When I first encountered accidie in the Bond tales, I did not know it was one of the original 7 Deadly Sins. I had not yet discovered Ian Fleming’s long-time fascination with these themes as both a journalist and a novelist. I do know that accidie has been the most insidious sin in my own life and I agree with Fleming: Accidie is one of the most insidious sins in our world today.

If these ideas resonate in your life, we invite you to use this prayer. You are free to share it with others, as well. Simply credit Dr. Benjamin Pratt and readthespirit.com as the source.

Prayer for Light
in Dark Times
of Accidie

By Dr. Benjamin Pratt

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I lament;
I resent;
I feel powerless now;
I can’t see a point, a direction, a purpose in my life.
I’ve lost my passionate spirit.
I‘ve lost my energy to struggle forward.
I’m living each day, but my heart is dry, tepid—
like a saucer of milk in the noonday sun.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I know what my life should feel like.
I’ve lived hard, worked hard, loved hard,
And I once believed hard, too. My faith was a rock.
I’ve thrown myself into my work, my relationships, my community.
Once, I knew I was making a difference in the world.
But, now I’m adrift without a compass.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I know there are countless issues crying for my energies.
I am surrounded by pressing needs, by loving people
But I’ve lost my heart for any of it.
I crawl out of bed each day and meet the day,
But my spirit, O God—my spirit feels broken.
I’m empty.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I’m yearning for the light of a new day.
I long for the old courage, the old calling.
Now, I’m taking this step in prayer;
I’m calling out humbly for just a taste of purpose and passion—
a ray of light in these dark times.
Fill me, O Lord, with the hope of joy—the joy of hope.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.

Amen

By Dr. Benjamin Pratt and …
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

This article also has been posted into Dr. Pratt’s column at the website for the Day1 radio network.