The Reverend Doctor James Howell quoted Thomas Merton’s famous prayer in his sermon today. It is a prayer for me, perhaps for you, maybe even for all of us as we stumble through life’s journey.
It is from Thoughts in Solitude(1958)
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Does that sound like you? It sure sounds like me… I mean when I am really truthful and thoughtful about my life, who I am and what I am about. I seek to be what God wants me to be all the time, but truth be known, I rarely get there. Truth be known, I am just like this prayer – I have no idea where I am going even though I think I am doing my best to follow Jesus. I do not see the road ahead of me… If I did I just might choose a different path… one more pleasing…comfortable… less stressful, less painful. And the biggie is I don’t even know myself. Is that ever true? I want to be like Jesus, sometimes I think I come close (like from the sun to earth close) but even that perception misses the mark by millions of miles. I think I am a peacemaker even when my real life reveals that I contribute to bigotry and hatred in very subtle ways. I think I am being kind and compassionate, when all along I am just trying to sooth my own guilty conscience.
A while back my blog found me trying to give voice to my own frustrations about the sad events which happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. One person took issue with me over this, saying that I shouldn’t be posting Martin’s beliefs on the Madison-Mayodan Facebook page. I am not sure he was correct, after all I am from Mayodan. I went to school there. I still have family living there. I don’t believe what I posted is against any rules set up by the site host.
My intention was to help us to seek to be peacemakers in this and all situations. I know there is a lot of pushback about removing Confederate statues in southern states. And I understand the reason why it is a tough issue. One side says it is a symbol of hatred, while the other side says it is a symbol of their heritage – which does not represent hate. A lot of southern people feel like their history is being erased statue by statue, building by building, street by street. Anyone who had anything to do with slavery should be stripped of any honor what-so-ever and their names be banished from all public buildings. If we do that, what do we do with the names of cities, places, schools and buildings named after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, Zachary Taylor, Harrison, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, James Madison, James Monroe, James Polk, John Tyler, Martin Van Buren – ALL of whom owned slaves. I guess we start with the Washington Monument and then move on to the Jefferson Memorial. And what would be the new name of Washington, DC?
You see, it is not an easy fix. People on both sides of this issue need to sit down and logically figure out how to honor our past while not encouraging any hatred today or in the future. So, let’s put our differences aside and pray together that cooler heads will come to terms with a treaty we all can live with. My thoughts about “Silent Sam” at Chapel Hill was to use it, along with Union Soldiers, to build a place where a teaching moment about the whole history of that period of America could be told in a respectful and truthful manner. Perhaps people could come away with a more complete understanding of what really happened and why. Perhaps, just perhaps the Civil War could finally end?
People in our family fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, but we don’t hate England, nor are we still fighting the north… at least I have never heard the subject come up at a family reunion.
I think we should fight… fight for peace on all sides, in all places, among all people. That is looking into the face of Jesus.
Grace and Peace