Wednesday, March 24, 2010

" us with your grace..."

"I pray you'll be our eyes,
and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise,
in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer,
when we lose our way
Lead us to the place,
guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe..."

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and set it aside, not quite ready to share my heart so openly on a subject that feels so close.  But today it feels right, so here goes:

It was four in the morning and I found myself looking for something to bridge the sadness gap in my heart.  And somwhere between praying for my family, and opening my heart to listen for the world's cry of hunger, I was led to this version of
"The Prayer." as sung by Sandi Patty and her husband, Don Peslis.

Sandi Patty is a contemporary Christian singer with the voice of an angel, and a personal story that almost destroyed her career.  In 1992 she divorced her first husband, and soon after remarried Peslis.  Rumors of infidelity tore through the Christian music community like a raging fire, fueled by the kind of bitter disappointment that is reserved only for those whose perceived fall from grace is long, hard, and heart-breaking.  Since then, she has humbly expressed remorse, sought forgiveness from those who may have been affected by her choices, and slowly...and gracefully...rebuilt her career and her music-based ministry. 

It's been eighteen years since her divorce and remarriage, yet Youtube video clips of her recent performances, especially duets with her husband, still elicit sharp criticism, angry invectives, and personal derision. 

Those of you who know me can probably imagine the heartache I feel for them.  They have a beautiful and faithful marriage of eighteen years.  They are deeply devoted to God...serving Him in song, and praising Him "
daily in the temple".   They are active members of their church congregation, and according to fellow congregants, their fellowship in Christ is warm and generous, and their philanthropy is deeply felt.

I loved reading her own words as she speaks about her now, ever stronger, relationship with God. “In a manner of speaking, the unconditional love and grace of God doesn’t mean as much to people until they really need it,” Sandi says in relation to that past, “but like the Andrae Crouch song (from her new CD "Songs for the Journey") suggests, 'I wouldn’t trade anything it if meant I wouldn’t have the current understanding of who God is, and who I am because of Him'.”

I wonder if this is what Washington Irving had in mind when he wrote:

""There is in every true woman's heart
a spark of heavenly fire,
which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity;
but which kindles up,
and beams and blazes,
in the dark hour of adversity."

Adversity comes in many forms. Sometimes we walk into it by our own choices, and sometimes we discover, like the Psalmist, that "if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." No matter what the route, we are there for a holy purpose...there is no other kind. And, "like gold by fire is tested, its purity shown forth" so the dross in our lives falls away in the purifying fires of adversity.

As I watched Sandi and Don singing
"The Prayer" in this video from a December, 2009 Carnegie Hall performance, I could feel "the power of the Word"...and I felt like I could actually see the words from this, and leaping in their hearts, their faces, their eyes.

"...I pray we'll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe..."

I hope you, the readers of this blog, will, as you watch this video clip of "The Prayer," join me in extending your prayers to all who seek mercy and forgiveness.  And I hope that you will bless them with the grace, and hope for redemption, that fills your own heart.  My prayer tonight is "that life be kind" to them. And I extend that prayer to each of us... may our Father-Mother God help us to "be wise in times when we don't know." 

There have been so many times in my life when I have lost my way...spiritual, financially, emotionally, professionally... times when I haven't known whether my decision, to turn to the left...or to the right...was clearly God-directed.  Times when I have let the noise of emotion, or ego, distract me from the stillness within.  Times when I have said something, judged someone, or behaved in a way that I would have given
anything to be able to retract. 

know the pain of regrettable choices...first hand...and I also know the longing for forgiveness.  I don't believe that the desire for forgiveness is a human choice or a personal decision.  I think of forgiveness as a relentless spiritual presence within us, a divine influence, a God-impelled imperative, an irretuable power asserting itself in our hearts.  It comes as a hunger in our lives, a hunger reminding us that "the longing to be good and true has brought the light again."  This longing itself is a gift, when we have lost our way.

As I watched Sandi and Don sing this song I found myself weeping with hope for us all...individually and collectively.

I hope that through these times, times when families are finding new forms...traditional, nuclear, adoptive, single-parent, blended, same-gender partnerships, foster parents and children, ...that
we are, if nothing else, raising up a generation of children who...because they have front row seats to our journeys...will have more compassion for others.  I pray that our teens are learning to gossip less, and that they become men, and women, who are willing to reserve their "good judgment" for better things than dissecting the personal choices and relationships of their neighbors.

"...We ask that life be kind
And watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Need to find a place,
guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe..."

I believe that we all long to know that we will be safely guided in our decision-making. We hunger for God's unfailing direction, like a man whose spent forty days, and forty nights in the wilderness, being tempted of the devil.  I believe that we each, desperately, hope that the choices we make will be wise, and that the steps leading to "another soul to love" will be filled with grace...

I will close this post with Mary Baker Eddy's prayer at the end of a letter she addressed to, "Beloved Brethren":

"May mercy and truth go before you:
may the lamp of your life continually be full of oil,
and you be wedded to the spiritual idea, Christ;
then will you heal, and teach, and preach,
on the ascending scale of everlasting Life and Love."
Affectionately yours in Christ,

this is also my prayer...just like every child,

Kate Robertson, CS

[photo credit: Amy Aleshire 2010]

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