As I was sitting down to write, this famous poem-prayer by Thomas Merton sprang to mind:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
As I prayed, Merton’s poem stirred in me a deep awareness of God’s abiding presence and the divine love and forgiveness that pervades our every waking moment, whether we’re aware of it or not. Drinking in the connection, I prayed the words again, just as aware of—and grateful for—the companionship of God.
The experience of life in pandemic has been so incredibly destabilizing that it’s hard for me to put into words. I feel like I can count on just a hand or two all the times over the last ten months I’ve suddenly remembered that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic—that is, the very few times I wasn’t constantly aware that life is very different from this time last year. That constant, grinding awareness of invisible danger seems to pervade almost everything. It is exhausting, destabilizing, and disorienting.
I’m grateful for the outside-of-me nudge that brought me to this prayer today. It reminded me that sometimes the desire to please God is all we’ve got. And God is, indeed, pleased just by that desire. Sometimes the road is so twisted and overgrown with thorns that there may as well not be a road at all. God is there for us in our directionless and in our wandering, always guiding us to where we need to be, no matter what.
God promises that we will never be alone and God keeps promises. Thanks be to God.
Yours in Christ,Justin