Things To Say To Your Truest Self
Years ago, I started using a Book of Hours that was compiled using the poems, writings and prayers of Thomas Merton. A Book of Hours is simply a guide to prayer where you are praying several times a day.
I've never really been consistent with those kinds of things, but for a time I kept at it pretty regularly. The prayers and poems in the Merton guide are all beautiful and amazing, and served as a wonderful companion.
But there was this one prayer for the morning that I kept coming back to again and again---one that always sparked my imagination, and filled me with a strange sense that could only be described with the word "bittersweet." Here it is:
How long we wait with minds as dim as ponds
While stars swim slowly homeward in the water of our west!
Heaven when will we hear you sing?
I don't know why, but that prayer always affected me, and it does even now... especially now.
You see, this prayer is supposed to be prayed in the early morning hours just before Dawn. The idea is that you would be praying the prayer in the moments before the light breaks over the horizon... praying, sitting in anticipation of the light... waiting for it.
The last line always catches in my throat if I am praying it out loud: "Heaven, when will we hear you sing?"
I think a lot of us have been praying a prayer like that over the last couple of months. We sit. We wait. We pray. And sometimes it feels like we've been waiting forever for the light to come over the horizon.
And so we wonder, "When, God? When is the light going to break? When will hear Heaven sing?"
In my worst moments through all of this, I have definitely felt the despair of waiting for the light to break, and realizing that the hours before Dawn keep stretching longer and longer.
But I have also felt something else from time to time--a feeling of intense excitement about what is to come.
When that feeling washes over me, I want to embrace it and hold on to it tightly because I feel like that feeling comes from my truest self, the self who isn't afraid, who isn't filled with despair, and who isn't weary and sad.
I feel like the truest part of me is stronger than before, more ready to move forward into this uncertain future that we are all facing. That's the part of me I admire--the self that wants to gather some crazy people around him, and charge Hell with a squirt gun.
The true, courageous part of me also realizes something. That the night is always darkest just before dawn. But the dawn is going to come.
And that part of me also knows that when there is upheaval, massive change, destruction, disruption... when there are global pandemics, for example... the dawn's early light will reveal a landscape that may seem unfamiliar at first because it changed overnight.
But there is beauty in the new thing, too. And maybe even the space for new things to grow and bloom. I read another poem by Tiffany Aurora today and it spoke to me:
The prettiest of wildflowers
are a result of wildfires.
Ask the poppy.
Ask the sage brush.
Ask the daisy who had
no room in the meadow
before the flames.
I don't know what new things the light will bring, but when Dawn finally breaks I want to have the courage to see the possibilities, the new things, the resurrection that is happening in the new world that has been created.
This is what I will say to my truest self this morning. "Wait, the light is coming... and when it does, let it shine...."
May you find courage as you wait for the Dawn. And may you speak words of life to your truest self, the self that is unafraid, filled with hope and anticipation. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.