Monday, September 15, 2014
Anxious about Earthly Things?
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This prayer has a different meaning for me as I get older. When I was younger I never considered myself to be one of those things “that are passing away.” Now I am given daily reminders of my own passing away. I say this not to be morbid, but to point out that my sense of future was much different when I was 21 and listening to this prayer being offered than it is today.
As a younger person, the future stretched out before me and my imagination allowed me to be among those things that were passing away, but not to be one of those things. Others shuffled off this mortal coil, but I remained. Buildings that seemed permanent were torn town and new ones constructed. Sometimes hills were leveled and whole new shopping centers and apartments were built. So, the prayer spoke to me as the observer of all else passing away, but not me.
From this lofty position of eternal living my ego enjoyed an almost, dare I say it, divine sense of self. Over the years I have witnessed the deaths of all of my parents and their whole generation. I have struggled with the grief of being placed among those loved ones whose love and nurture welcomed me into the world and nurtured me well beyond the time I was dependent upon them.
Today this prayer invites me to be less anxious amongst the changes and chances of this life. It identifies for me the One who is beyond my limited ego and whose embrace endures even as I move toward my own passing away.
While I do not plan to die anytime soon, this prayer offers a way of living that values the enduring love of God and the power of that love to connect us to one another now. This is not a fairy tale. This is panning for the gold of the divine generosity in our lives and in the relationships we share with each passing day and each passing life.
My classmates from Mira Costa (1965) will be gathering together next summer for what may be our last official reunion. We will have spent more time apart than together and we have certainly developed different ways of seeing the world.
But despite all of our diverse ways of thinking and behaving and valuing, we will come together for one last celebration of a time when the future spread out before us in great hope and fear. Hope that we might change our world to make life better for everyone and fear that along the way we might be swallowed up by our own anxieties as a generation and as individuals and not see the enduring things of forgiveness, mercy, grace-space, and love.