Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive you, intellect to understand you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and life to proclaim you, through the power of the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Attributed to St. Benedict (480-553)
The words of this prayer come from the book that we used for our service on the Second Sunday of Easter, Journey into Joy: Stations of the Resurrection by Andrew Walker. It is a collection of the Bible stories of
Jesus’ resurrection appearances, together with words of meditation, poetry, artwork, and prayers.
This prayer is attributed to a fifth and sixth century Abbot from Central Italy known as Benedict of Nursia. He is venerated as a saint by many branches of the Christian church including the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican traditions. He established a group of monasteries and wrote “The Rule of St. Benedict” which provided the foundation for Christian monasticism. Although called a “rule” it was more like a guide for living in community. Unlike other guides, it sought a more balanced approach toward religious life than other religious guides, providing a path to grow in love of God and care for one another.
Whether the words of this poem were written by Benedict or not, they reflect the passion and zeal of a deep spirituality. Fifteen centuries later, among Christians of many different backgrounds, the wish to know and love and proclaim God are still our concerns. In this day, amidst the ongoing threat of the pandemic, growing awakening to racial injustice, polarization and fragmentation, and persistent concerns about climate and the environment, how do we live in community?
These are vexing and challenging questions, ones that defy easy answers. Although the particular issues and concerns have changed over the centuries, the task of building significant lives and relationships is part of what it means to be human—whether for sixth century monks or a twenty-first century suburbanites.
In this work, I find reassurance in the Easter promise of new life and the unexpected ways that God reveals the Divine when our eyes and ears are opening to seeing and hearing. The words of another poem in Walker’s book speaks to that hope. Julia Esquivel, a contemporary Guatemalan poet, theologian and human rights activist, writes these words as a prayer: “Accompany us then on this vigil/and you will know what it is to dream!/You will then know/how marvelous it is/to live threatened with Resurrection!//To dream awake/to keep watch asleep/to live while dying/and to already know oneself/resurrected!”
Grace and Peace,