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;
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.
By Bro. John L. Cash
The other day I was walking the sidewalks in our little Southern town, just as the morning sunshine flooded the horizon. I stopped in the post office and bought a book of stamps. Next door I dropped off my water bill in the water-bill-box. Then I walked across the street to the bank and dropped an envelope in the night deposit slot.
And it was a glorious day to be alive. I mean, sometimes when you have an ordinary morning, it’s just that nice.
When I got home I told my wife, “You know, Susan, sometimes when I walk downtown on a winter morning, I feel like Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Except instead of being a lawyer, I’m a country preacher, of course. It sounds silly. It’s almost impossible to explain. But it’s really a wonderful feeling.”
Then Susan said a really nice thing. She said, “John, I can see exactly why you would feel that. Yes, I really understand that.”
Do you realize all of the (logical) ways she could have responded? She might have said, “That’s awfully random” or maybe, “That’s really stupid.” But instead she understood perfectly. That’s the nicest thing of all.
You might have noticed today that I started things off with a poem instead of a verse of Scripture. It’s a prayer, the “Peace Prayer” written by St. Francis of Assisi. Take a minute and study it. It’s a prayer we all need to pray, and it’s a prayer we need to strive to live.
Right now it’s hard for me to watch the evening news (and all the strife) without feeling ill. But Francis says it’s up to all of us to practice virtue in the world to make it a better place; it’s not enough to wait for everyone else to begin.
And everybody wants to be comforted, to be loved, and to be understood. But Saint Francis says the prizes go to those who bring comfort to others, who show love to others, and who make the effort to understand others.
The world’s situation right now is like a red, festering, angry sore. We don’t need anyone else to rub an irritant into it. Let’s all pray the prayer and start to “smooth on the ointment.” It’s time to start listening and time to start caring. Only then can improvement and healing begin.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 32 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s a retired Mississippi public schoolteacher with grown sons, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa with his grandson, Landon Cash. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where it’s been a busy week this week.) You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.