Wednesday, February 18, 2015


As I grew up, The Lord's Prayer was recited, not prayed all that much, in church and in private, like a kind of chant or mantra. Thus there were pauses that seem to eradicate or obscure meaning: "thy kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." And so in my heart and in my head, I think I unconsciously separated or ran together phrases like a schoolchild trying to finish saying a poem, not to enjoy its essence, but to get the whole thing over with so one can return to one's seat.

But recently, as I trudged through mornings with my usual un-Christlike grudges and fears and anxieties, I found myself slowing this prayer down enough to put together what I suspect Jesus did not mean to be rent asunder: "thy will be done on Earth." Ah, crap. Now I'm in trouble, I thought.

how quickly these arms
disappear after hugging
sunshine and bright clouds
cold rain returns as it must
gloves cover my fighting heart

Today starts another Lent, a time some think of as a season for giving up things. And I have much to shed, to remove. But I've also spent a lot of time in life just giving up. How hard it is to give up anger, jealousy, and hurt. One might see the destruction it does to the soul and mind, and easily drop it like a hot stone. But no. It is, it seems, more natural to hold them it close as one might a teddy bear that needs cleaning.

The command is to love. And I honestly don't like it all of the time. Sometimes I wish Jesus would cut me some slack and say, "I want you to love everybody. But I'll let you keep a list of five people you don't have to act kindly towards or think charitably about." Of course, I have the freedom to keep such a list. I know, because I usually carry one like a stone tablet, etched with my own finger, in my head. Yet even if such a thing did not create a barrier between me and God, as it does, it would be a wall between me and the self I was born to be. And in that place is no happiness, no joy.

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