Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
I read the word “lord” as “The Force for good in all things” and construe “good” as anything that serves life and joy.
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
This is what all good counseling and self-help tomes teach or ought to. In any situation where hate is evinced or demonstrated, dealing with it with love and detachment can only make things better. That is what Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication (NVC) is all about. It is not about eschewing violence per se, though it does that, but about responding with love and empathy to each and every situation we meet in life.
where there is injury, pardon;
This is a difficult plea, for it asks for the strength to meet a personal injury or wound that affects the self with nothing more than pardon and forgiveness. This is a mental act. It does not mean that society should not also deal somehow with the injurer, only that the pleader as an injured person wants not to be embittered or soured by life’s misfortunes and untoward acts by another individual. The plea itself, “where there is injury let me sow pardon” when intentional and sincere, is the first step towards true detachment.
where there is doubt, faith;
Doubt here does not mean a religious doubt and the faith is not a religious faith. I read this is asking to promote faith and trust in life-serving-life and in a world of love where people have become so bitter or worldy that they doubt the reality or even the value in either one. Doubt closes us down, and is a narrowing, a contraction, a pushing away of opportunities that might be trying to come towards us, whereas faith opens us up to possibility and has a magnetic quality
where there is despair, hope;
Sometimes all you can do, in the face of another’s personal despair is to be there and listen to them, affirming their pain while promoting the ever-present possibility of hope. One of the most loving and in the end healing things anyone ever did for me was to hear my cries of suicidal despair and to take my pain seriously. This lovely woman not only understood that there was a possibility I might not live, but knowing this, she offered to be there with me, accompanying me on the journey at least that far, when I took my own life. She knew she could not stop this act, if it occurred, but also understood that I did not want to die in some closet or under the surface of a full bathtub. I wanted to die with understanding and peace, and wanted someone to be with me who was not afraid or insistent on stopping me. Be horrified if you will, but it was her act, her offer to simply be with me and not make me die alone that turned the corner in my mind. I realized that all my preparations, like Advance Directives had been for life, for survival, and so if I was so intent on suicide, there truly was something amiss…and I could see that proof in my own documents. I wanted to live. I always wanted to live, so even I could see that seeking death in this period of deep despair was not the solution I would want, “in my right mind.” Because of this realization, we got me to a place where I could find help without abuse (i.e. not a hospital) and a way to go on…The result was that I began to heal for real, from lifelong mental illness and disability into a life of love and joy that I could not have anticipated at the time I wanted only to die.
where there is darkness, light (would change “darkness” to “loss of vision”)
Not all darkness is negative. Some darkness like when one sleeps at night is necessary and peace-bringing. People have for centuries equated darkness and blackness with what is evil or bad. No wonder African Americans have been taught to hate the color of their skin… But no more. As in the Yin Yang symbol, darkness and light are equal partners in life and without one we could not experience the other.
But when you lose vision in the sense of truly seeing what is there and what is real, you may need light to shine on your loss, to help you see the truth.
where there is sadness, joy.
And what better goal in life than to sow joy where sadness reigns? Sometimes just being there and understanding a person’s sadness is enough. Not deriding them or trying to artificially buck them up, but to sow joy as a person of joyfulness. It is hard for anyone to remain sad in the presence of real joy. It is infectious and contagious. Come, will you share my joy with me?
O divine Force for good in all things, 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.
So many people do not realize that in doing these acts of kindness towards another, we find relief from our own pain. In consoling and understanding another, we experience consolation and understanding for and of ourselves. When we give love, out of a full and selfless desire, we get back so much more love than we ever could have imagined. We learn to love ourselves.
For it is in giving that we receive,
Giving and generosity are not highly valued in this society. We think, if a person lacks something, their own resources and work should provide it. To receive is for many even more difficult. We do not want charity or to be seen as needy. But sometimes we have to allow others the gift of being able to give to us. That way, they can feel joy and be healed too.
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
That is truly the gift that gives…When we do unto others, we also bring about the same outcome and reward for ourselves without even willing it. When we promote forgiveness and act in a forgiving way towards the world, we are ourselves forgiven and learn to love even what mistakes we make or errors we find ourselves in. But there are no mistakes, no errors, when you serve life and joy in all things…Everything that happens in your life leads to where you are, which is here and now, praying to be an instrument of peace in the world. What else could be better? Death has no dominion then…And dying is just sleeping, a rest and a reward.
Yes, when you have understood all that, Amen indeed, “so be it.”