“Lord, make me a channel of your peace….”
St. Francis: Prayer of St. Francis
To many of us, these are familiar words, either from the song or the written form of this prayer. I’ve been studying the works of Eknath Easwaran, lately, specifically his writing entitled “Passage Meditation”. His first challenge to me was to meditate on The Prayer of St. Francis. Initially, this sounded like it may be distracting for me to meditate on a prayer rather than to just continue my practice of quieting my mind. I must mention that his instructions are to meditate (contemplate on) one word or phrase at a time. Often in this practice I don’t get past this initial phrase. I would like to share some of the mental observations that have come to me in this practice as well as the related challenge of the 12 steps.
“Lord”: My initial reaction to this word is with thoughts of tyranny. The lord of the castle commands the servants against their will. Lordship, in my mind, is more of a ruler and dictator. As my practice evolved, I began to envision a Lord of peace and justice. There flowed an awareness of an invitation into a place of rest and peace.
Invitation? I sensed an invitation from a Lord rather than a command. This invitation required a response from me. My hesitation was locked into a past fear of submission rather than a willful act of relationship.
The first of the 12 steps is an admission of a loss of control. This invitation from a Lord to a place of healing and security is a refreshing option which minimizes fear. This is good for me.
“Make me”: Is this my request of the Lord? I am therefore requesting a change. I am asking to be made ????????? in to what? Again, the responsibility returns to me. I am making a willful request for something different. My history of addictive choices left me broken, empty and alone. Step 2 is about admitting that there is a power greater than myself. Early in recovery, I desperately needed sobriety. Beyond sobriety, I had no clue of what to request. Today, 16 years into the practice of sobriety, the building process continues. I have been "being made" throughout the entire journey of my life. This phrase is taking me to new places.
“A channel”: My images of a channel include a pipeline of sorts. I see a vessel filled with something moving somewhere. My addiction filled my vessel with fear, anger, hostility, blame, paranoia, and this list goes on. Sobriety has required that I clean out my vessel. I am in a continuous process of making space for something more wholesome and alive. I am part of a continuously re-creative process of change. Sometimes the channel seems filled with monsoon like turbulence. Other times there is a presence of grace and peace. Always, there is movement.
“of your peace”: I have begun to wonder if I know peace. I have expectations of what peace should be. I also believe that I have experienced glimpses of peace. This part of the phrase has made me mindful of my request for the Lord’s peace. I sense that I am imposing my expectation of peace on the Lord’s intended peace. That would certainly limit my ability to fully experience the Lord’s gift to me. Step 3 is about turning our life and our will over to the care of God. Releasing my will is a challenge filled with fear. Upon reflection I have experienced glimpses of peace. These may have been blurred by my expectations, but I can still appreciate them. So I will accept the experiences I have enjoyed up to the present. This unfolding awareness of my limitations may open me to something new. My practice will shift further into an attitude of openness with less imposition of my expectations.
With this new intention, I will continue the practice of 12 steps and meditation. To date, the journey has been healing and transforming. The space beside restful waters continues to grow as more of you share this space with me. My sense of gratitude grows.