Dear God, my pathway through the day is new each morning. I cannot see beyond the first, early turning. I delude myself that, if I could but see the whole of my way, my worries would silence. In truth, I could not bear to see the whole. My soul would churn with anticipation, fear, elation, despondency, pride, deflation. All just as the result of knowing what is around the corner.
Lord, you have constructed my circumstances so that they suit my character perfectly. This is my lesson from looking backwards, considering all the previous days’ journeys. You brought each lesson when I was able to learn it, you brought chaos when I was strong enough to weather it, you delivered placid times when I did not even realize I needed rest.
The path down which I walk today is the continuation of all of yesterday’s. Let me, O my Lord, walk today as if I had been an attentive student and learned all these previous lessons. Let me walk the day’s path as your child, marveling at the surroundings that are at once new and familiar. Each knew hour containing a discovery, even on the dullest marches.
Lord, my guide, let me be a grateful walker.
Dear God, set me in the right direction. Make visible the path I am to tread, and let my actions move me along it. With regret, I recognize that so much of my activity is wasted, chaotic. I dart from point to point, energized by panic, elation, worry, enthusiasm. Even my moods are frantic. I alternate between energy and lethargy. I wish for a sense of accomplishment but even at my most industrious, the work goes off in all directions.
Lord, grant me the willingness to discern right effort. Let my footfalls slow, let my steps be straight. If I am to go bit by bit, this is a greater task when I am gripped by mania then when under the gray weight of sloth.
Let me shed trivia. Direct my thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds toward useful ends.
I distract myself, in truth, to keep my spirit asleep. Awaken me.
Dear God, strip away, bit by bit, carefully and gently, the veneer I so wish to polish. My armor. The face I present to the world, my image, yea, even the face I present to myself. You remove it, piece by piece, and I stand naked in the sunlight on a bare plane.
My finery is in rags, a heap at my feet. My armor rusted in a pile. There is no tree behind which to step, no mound under which to duck. There I am, Lord, for all to see. For me to see myself clearly.
Make me ready to gaze upon all my weaknesses, faults, and transgressions. Let me see and accept my strengths and beauty.
Ignite the pile of costuming at my feet. Let it burn. The sun is shining and the climate warm. I will walk through it as a child of God.
Dear God, when I cease struggling, I gain a brief awareness of how fundamentally you support me. If a challenge falls upon me, you are there without my even noticing – you deliver to me the proper words or deeds even without my seeking them.
I am like a child who has newly learned to walk. Your hands float inches away from my hips, ready to right me when I tip, to turn my path when I veer toward a ledge. All the while I think I am walking alone.
I sit here. The chair supports me, and the floor underneath holds the chair. The foundation below and, further, there is the ground. Your powerful arms underneath it all. Let me feel this support driving up from you through the worldly objects and manufactured surfaces, right into me. Buoyed and grounded all at once. Protected from toppling, directed away from disaster.
Try as I may to wreck the plans you have laid for me with my willfulness, my efforts to thwart you always amount to a puff of air against a mountain.
Let me, therefore, believe myself to be your protected, favored child. If I am so fundamentally loved, from the depths of the earth, what then shall I do with the energy otherwise spent in defending myself against imagined calamity? It never happens. So let me spend this effort in giving to others, pointing out to them the supports underneath that they may not have noticed, or have forgotten.
Let me spread the good news that we are all held aloft.
Dear God: Light and air. Morning mist. Dawn shadows. I move through these early hours, like a meticulous ghost, tending to my duties quietly and carefully. You pad along next to me, whispering in my ear. Straighten these objects. Clean this surface. My small actions are my devotion to you. What soft satisfaction, to allow my chores to become prayer.
God, it is not the occasions and doings, the events, for which I am so grateful. It is the attitude you have instilled in day to day activities. What a task you set before us, your children! You call us – you call me – to allow your love to improve our inner life.
When fearful and small, I call out to you. On clearer mornings I know I ought better call inward. There you are, right next to me. I whisper to you, and you whisper to me, here in the quiet shadows.
O my dear friend. Let me do your bidding today.
Dear God, I am camped by a waterfall, gifts cascading down without end and without number. I am so accustomed to the roar of the water I do not even hear it. On dark days, I awaken and believe myself to be in a wasteland, without resources.
O Lord, let me see the infinity of gifts pouring down around me, soaking me. The small courtesy extended by a friend, the challenge offered by a superior, the honesty delivered by the criticism of an adversary. The sun. A meal. This faith. I am waiting so expectantly for dramatic grace that I do not even look at what is right before my eyes.
God, in constant ways, you provide. Before I even know my own needs you have prepared the way, cleared the path, chosen the route. What arrogance, for me to even imagine I could know and list my requirements.
Let me become aware of your astounding love. Let my deepest thoughts undergo a revolution. Let me encounter this downpour of your love, feel it soak me to the bone in a way I cannot ignore. Awaken me.
Dear God, as I try to order my affairs so that I can best be your instrument, doing your work among my fellows, I struggle to discern when you are preparing me for some later trial, and when the time is nigh and you call me to act with vigor.
Are you using me or training me? The challenges with which I am presented cause me fear. I am worried at how high the stakes may be.
Lord, O Lord, deliver me equanimity! This arrives wrapped in faith, on those few occasions when I experience it.
Let me not look too deeply into the happenings around me; let me not ask so many impertinent questions; let me view the training ground, the factory floor, and the field of battle as equal.
Let me center my thinking and actions on living a life of faith. This, my project. Let this be the glowing core of my life, an ember warming me as I shiver in fear at the largeness of the world.
Thy will be done.