I read a great devotion from one of our local pastors in our newspaper’s “Minister’s Moments” recently, and have asked permission to share it in full (make sure you read to the very end). This is so true and helpful, especially in times like these. He begins with a quote from another writer:
Part of the truth always includes our own shortcomings. We do well to begin by confessing them. When I confess my own sins, I tend to make peace, and when I confess the other person’s sins, I tend to make war. — Samuel M. Shoemaker
It is only natural to want to blame something or someone. Holding people accountable rings hollow because it has been said so many times with no measurable change. The finger pointing, telling others that they are responsible, the media is to blame and the list goes on, does not change the perception and action in our society. Our public conversations don’t go anywhere but around and around with no real path toward a resolution. My role in this? I get silent and stew.
Then this prayer comes to mind and I add the emphasis in italics. “Lord, make us (me) instrument(s) of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us (me) sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we (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 (I) receive; it is in pardoning that we (I) are/am pardoned; and it is in dying that we (I) are/am born to eternal life” [quote from St. Francis of Assisi].
I realize this prayer is about me. I am not going to pretend that love will solve all the ills of society. I cannot change somebody’s life, but I can change mine. What I can do is pay close attention to those around me. Not to get others to do my will, but to seek to understand their fears, hopes, and dreams. I don’t seek to explain their and my fears away; I acknowledge that their fear is real for all of us.
How will I turn the tide of fear and hostility? I will work on living beyond the anxiety of this point in history. I will acknowledge my own dread and hostility and not share it with others. I will work on going in a different direction; I will go toward the hope, when faced with despair; I will move toward the light when in darkness; I can seek faith when in doubt; and when I am sad I will work on being open to joy. I can seek understanding before explaining. I will own the power of my own humanity and love. For me, it is about affirming the dignity of every human being through the love of Christ. This is how I choose to change the world and make peace for myself and for others. — Rev. Doug Wasinger, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Buffalo Bulletin, 2/21/18