Sunday, July 23, 2006

"All That Would Do Me Harm"

Rating: GT, ES
Today I am grateful for both Sir Thomas More and John Prine.

John Prine is just an amazing singer and songwriter and storyteller. John Prine wrote "Angel From Montgomery," made famous by the great great Bonnie Raitt. If you're not familiar with the rest of his work, get your hands on one of his CDs right now. Seriously. This post will still be here. I defy anyone to listen to "Dear Abby" and not feel better about your own life, to listen to "In Spite of Ourselves" and not grin at your significant other, no matter how close you were to killing him/her five minutes ago.
But the John Prine nugget o' wisdom I'm rubbing in my palm today is this:

Father, forgive us for what we must do
You forgive us, we'll forgive you
We'll forgive each other 'til we both turn blue
Then we'll whistle and go fishing in heaven

("Fish and Whistle," Bruised Orange, 1978)

If you're horrified by the arrogant presumption of even daring to speak of base humanity extending forgiveness to the Almighty, then I politely request that you climb down off your high horse for just a couple of minutes in order to listen briefly to lowly little me.

I don't think God is need of our forgiveness. I do know that I, for one, am in desperate need of relinquishing the resentment I hold about the fact that God doesn't seem to arrange things the way I would most like. Yes, I'm fully aware that I am not equipped to run the universe, but that doesn't prevent me from wanting what I want and getting mad when it doesn't happen that way. What's more, I am fully aware of the foolishness of this exercise, but that awareness has yet to reform the constitution of my psyche. God doesn't need me to forgive God--I need me to forgive God. And I am confident that the One who made me, the One who loves me, the One who saves and redeems me, will forgive me this as well.

OK--that wasn't so long, was it? Feel free to mount your tall steed again, if you are so inclined.

Sir Thomas More composed this prayer about forgiveness:

Almighty God, have mercy on ______,
and on all that bear me evil will and would do me harm,
and on their faults and mine together.
By such easy, tender, merciful means as your own infinite wisdom can best devise;
vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together.
Where we may ever live and love together with you and your blessed saints.

I have a long list of names with which I fill in the blank. Archbishop Peter Akinola. Osama bin Laden. Pat Robertson. The colleague I offended. The former boss who felt threatened by my attempts to help.
All those brothers and sisters, fellow children of God, of whom I am terribly, terribly afraid.

Whom do you fear?

yours in the struggle,
Max

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