Fatigue wrapped its ugly arms around me earlier today–the worst I’ve experienced since starting my Sabbatical. Think it came from a weekend spent in the Cotswolds where I had a wonderful time reconnecting with a beloved nephew and his family and saw glorious countryside–and parts of New College Oxford where scenes from Harry Potter are filmed. But . . . I completely lost the rhythm of walking/reading/writing that had characterized my days recently and that had led to such a sense of physical and spiritual well-being.
My best recourse when I reach this point is to move. This body is made for walking. I headed for the nearby Downs where there are miles of walking trails through forests and fields.
And, as I often do when the walking rhythms take hold, I began to pray. I realized suddenly that I was about to load on God all my petty complaints and little frustrations and bigger concerns and all the other trivia that often occupies my mind. I stopped and regrouped.
When I started again, I began with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. It was time to acknowledge God’s holiness, and move from thinking I am the center of the universe to the spot where I can and will worship the Center of all the cosmos. Then I hit the phrases that always stop me: may God’s will be done, may God’s rule overcome, here in this limited earth time/space as it already is in the fullness of the heavenly places.
Over the weekend, my nephew and I were helping his older daughter, 5, practice praying the Lord’s Prayer. She is learning this in her school here and wanted to show us what she’d learned. In typical five year old fashion, it went something like this, “Our Father who aren’t in heaven, hollow be my name. My kingdom come, my will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Working on reining in our laughter, we gently corrected her and encouraged her in her great progress.
Personally, I think what I heard from her is really what most people do think. God’s not really in heaven, glory and honor have nothing to do with this–the whole thing is hollow, and what we really want is our own will to be done.
But the prayer does, in its non-five year old form, call for God’s will be done. What is God’s will?
I’ve been pondering again the words to Mary’s Magnificat, the words she spoke after her pregnancy was confirmed by Elizabeth, herself pregnant with John the Baptist:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
It’s that middle paragraph that stops me cold: scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting the lowly, filling the hungry but sending the rich away.
Could that be God’s will? Seriously? Put down the power? Turn the weapons of mass destruction into means of food production? Remove the carnivorous nature of the wolf so the lamb can safely nestle there? Celebrate the huddled masses, the poverty-stricken, desperate, illegal immigrant population as welcomed sojourners? Hug the lepers, touch the unclean and discover that the gospel comes best from the most unlikely sources, from voices that have historically been silenced?
Surely God’s kingdom is my kingdom–where I get what I want, and I stay the center of the universe.
Or maybe we’ve missed the boat completely.