Danielle posted this gorgeous video of Sarah McLachlan singing the Prayer of Saint Francis. I watched it this morning in the darkness of my bedroom and am tremendously moved. This prayer, along with May the Road Rise to Meet You and Reinhold Neibuhr’s famous words asking God to grant me the serenity often moves through my thoughts as though unbidden. This happens to me a lot – fragments of a poem, or a prayer, or a song will suddenly be in my head. I can’t quite tell if I hear the words or read them in the space of my mind. Either way, they tend to present themselves, unasked-for but insistent, the meaning of their arrival often unclear in the moment and vividly apparent after the fact.
Saint Francis’s prayer is lovely and wise, compelling in its simple call to be of service. I have been to Assissi twice, and both times found it a place with palpable power. There is a deep spirituality in the air in Assissi. Side note: this is not just because it has a gorgeous cathedral: I grew up going to so many sites like this that my sister and I would moan about ADC [another damn cathedral]. For me at least, there is something particularly special about Assissi.
The first visit was right after I graduated from college, and I have a strong memory of descending into the basement of the cathedral and being overwhelmed with something that I could not name or put words around. It was as though something inside my chest cracked, and I found myself mute, staring blankly in the dim, incense-scented space, tears streaming down my face.
The words follow, but do listen to Sarah McLachlan’s haunting rendition of them. I can’t get it out of my head.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
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