Friday, December 05, 2008

Lord, let my life be an unceasing prayer to you
despite its labors and losses;
grant me a gracious heart
that overflows with a gratitude to overcome
and wash away all my worries.
Amen.

-a prayer of Henri J. M. Nouwen

I don't actually have many real worries. At this point in my life, I have no practical needs to be anxious over, no physical burdens to bear, not even many of my own personal sorrows. So, I often make them up or take on those of others. I think I might look for things upon which to center my anxiety. And there is a lot of darkness in the world, so much heaviness to bear. I take the "bear one another's burdens" command very seriously. The danger in this for me, is that I tend to create something very ugly and self-centered out of a beautiful scriptural teaching.

Madeleine L'Engle (my favorite author, who would, of course, have something perfect to say 'to me' about this) wrote...

Compassion means to suffer with, but it doesn't mean to get lost in the suffering so that it becomes exclusively one's own. I tend to do this, to replace the person for whom I am feeling compassion with myself. --A Circle of Quiet

And this prayer from yesterday's advent reading so simply (and far more clearly and concisely than I could articulate) reminded me that my response to worry, my response to life, my response to Christ...should be unceasing prayer...and a heart of gratitude.

2 comments:

MandieGirl said...

Can you read my mind? My own anxieties?

I feel that you can. I do this so often, as I, too, do not have many of my own things to worry about, so I 'bear' other's way too heavily-not in the sense that it doesn't deserve, but exactly like you said- that it becomes self-centered.

Thanks for sharing. It's encouraging.

Liz Thomson said...

Yay Madeline L'Engle! I just read The Arm of the Starfish. Do you have any other recommendations of hers to read?

I love your faith, Angela. It is so deep and so sincere. Very inspiring to this Californian!

Miss you!