Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.
–“God of Grace and God of Glory,” Harry Emerson Fosdick
A Word of Hope
Some days it’s more difficult than others to know what to write, to discern how to speak to you. This is one of those times. Though most of you will read this devotion on Thursday, November 5, our submission deadline is October 28. At this point, then, I have no idea who won the presidency—or any other elective position. Maybe we won’t even know the outcome on the 5th because the vote might be contested and in litigation.
Today electiontide uncertainty merges with covidtide uncertainty to form a crackling mass of indefiniteness. In this in-between-time where apocalyptic messages and “threats of dire predictions” roar, we need the wisdom of deep down things and to call our elders into the circle.
Eighty one year old spiritual guide Parker Palmer teaches that apocalypse really means a revealing. So he urges us to live in reality—abjuring illusion—and to ponder thoughtfully what our earth, our society, our relationships are revealing to us right now. Hope, for him, “is holding the creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something that can narrow the distance between the two.”
Franciscan Father Richard Rohr reminds us that the scriptures do not offer rational certitude: “They offer us something much better and an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity and ground to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing [and]are not easily defeated…”
In “God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manly Hopkins offers the view that [N]ature is never spent; “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; / And though the last lights off the black West went / Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—/Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World
broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
And finally, May Sarton speaks this wisdom from her “Unison Benediction”:
Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.
Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart; the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.
Oh God, “From the fears that long have bound us, free our hearts to faith and praise. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of these days, for the facing of these days.” Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon