If someone were to ask you, “Quick! Recite something from a Psalm,” you’d likely go to “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23)
Or if they asked you to (quick as you can!) recite a prayer that’s not a table grace, you might start off, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallow/ed be thy name…” (Mtt. 6:9-13)
This week was another one of those “Quick!!…DO something!” kind of weeks, and I’m sure you’ve already had your fill of what happened and why, election this-and-that. I choose not to write about that part, but rather… the fear, the mourning, the healing we pray for. It is the time to be galvanized, connected, and ready to continue creating the change we need in the world.
I do not agree with the prognosticators saying, “Don’t curl up in a ball.” “Don’t run away.” If you need to do that for however long it takes, go ahead! I certainly did, and I loathed the idea that someone should tell me to “just cheer up” when my body and my spirit wasn’t ready to do that.
Take as long as you need.
Your friends, your supporters, your caregivers, your prayer chain and assembled group of “we are thinking of you and remembering your grief,” we are here, and we are ready to proceed when you are. What’s the rush in getting it all back in order?
I’ll get more into shock reactions and the darkness I felt later on, as the memory of all that becomes less raw. I will keep politics out of the mix, and I will not preach any particular sort of salvation.
Ours is – after all – just a pause.
My first go to, when I was able to have prayerful thoughts again, was to turn to the Order of Compline in the Episcopal prayer book. It’s my favorite of all the services in the book. Not because it’s so short (you can get through it reading aloud in under 20 minutes) but because it is concise with extremely lyrical prayers about how we ask for God’s protection during the over-night, until the next day arrives.
One of the prayers speaks of angels, and that one sounds out to me today, because my first prayer I could say out loud was
I didn’t feel my safety was at risk even though I fear that for others around me. I prayed that because of what another Compline prayer describes as the changes and chances of this life. That is kind-of what’s going on right now. The prayer goes on to remind us of the eternal changelessness of God. Whatever awful, stupid crap happens around us, this one part of our experience with the universe never changes.
The prayer that popped to my Quick! reaction is this one:
Visit this place, O LORD, and drive far from it all the snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessings be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Protect me. Protect us all. Guide us away from wrong choices if that’s possible and if not, help us to learn quickly from our missteps. If angels aren’t your thing nor this whole Christian gig, think of that phrase as: show us all our better angels. Show us that there is life beyond today, and that it is our vocation to live it.
If I can go to sleep and rest in that great changelessness (faith), then tomorrow, just maybe, the day will be a tiny bit brighter than today (hope.)
Be good to each other and be there for each other. Give folks time to step into sunlight at their own pace. What’s the hurry? Healing comes as it comes and will not be rushed.
Keep the faith!
A little song from my Sunday School days that I didn’t even realize had verses. I have certainly sang the refrain all my life.
Angels Watching Over Me.
All Night, All Day,
The Angels, Keep A Watching Over Me (My Lord)
All Night, All Day,
The Angels, Keep A Watching, Over Me
You Can Accuse Me,
You Can Even Abuse Me,
You Can Drive Me From The Cold
(The Angels, Keep Watching, Over Me)
You, You Can Crucify This Old Body,
Oh, But You Can Not, You Can’t Touch
(Yes, The Angels Keep Watching… Over Me.)
I Haven’t … Been To Heaven
But… I’m Surely, I’m Surely
On My Way… Oh, (Background)
I Am Walking… With My Jesus
Every Night… And Every Day..
(Yes, The Angels, Keep Watching… Over Me.)
In The Midnight, When I Get In Trouble
When I Lay, Me Down To Sleep, Oh….
(The Angels, Keep Watching,… Over Me)
I Don’t Wonder, And I Don’t Have To Worry, For I Know The Lord, My Soul He’ll Keep.
When things always seem their darkest, when we need an extra boost to get through the next great test, when our patience is pulled to the thinnest, most silken thread, there is always prayer. As short or as long as you want it to be, even a single word can be prayer. You can find prayer in singing just one musical note.
Remember that if you pray through music that Bach told us: To sing once is to pray twice.
Keep the faith!
Give me courage
to face the problems that confront me today;
thank you for your sustaining strength. – Amen
“The angel of the LORD is round about them that fear him, and he delivers them.”
– Psalm 34:7
Te lucis ante terminum
(Latin) Te lucis ante terminum,
rerum Creator, poscimus,
ut solita clementia,
sis praesul ad custodiam.
Procul recedant somnia,
et noctium phantasmata:
hostemque nostrum comprime,
ne polluantur corpora.
Praesta, Pater omnipotens,
per Iesum Christum Dominum,
qui tecum in perpetuum
regnat cum Sancto Spiritu.
(English) To thee before the close of day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That, with thy wonted favour, thou
Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.
From all ill dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Withhold from us our ghostly foe,
That spot of sin we may not know.
O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.