Heart Trouble

O God: Give me strength to live another day; Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people; Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Phillips Brooks, For TodayForward Day by Day, inside back cover; Cincinnati, OH:Forward Movement, www.forwardmovement.org]

Construction paper hearts and flowers taped to a window  with a Thank You for the mail carriers; balloons tied to a street sign with a Get Well, Mallory poster, placed where they can be seen from her hospital window; nurses singing songs to patients in isolation. None of it can stop the loss of life that comes with this pandemic, but any and all of it can soften hearts that might otherwise become bitter and cynical.

My heart, not my mind, is what shades the world I look upon every day. A sound heart reveals a beautiful if imperfect world, full of broken, holy people. Such a world is a privilege to love, even if loving it brings some pain and disappointment. An aching, bitter heart expects insult, arrogance, and disregard; in this, it will not be disappointed: what the heart sees is usually what the heart gets.

But even the most cynical, sarcastic heart can’t control everything. Grace and healing can come like a thief in the night, stealing the heart’s store of ingratitude, meanness, and treachery. When that happens, only hope and love are left behind – one of God’s holy reverse thefts.

Let me not lose faith

For Today

O God: Give me strength to live another day; Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people; keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meannesss; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Phillips Brooks

A Meditation by Bill Albritton, leader, teacher, child of God:

Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you. (Katherine Hepburn, On Golden Pond)

When I have lost faith in other people, I’m sometimes forced to admit that it’s not the other people’s problem – it’s mine. They haven’t lived up to my expectations. And why should they? Maybe, just maybe, I need to lose faith in my expectations? What gives me the right to expect people to behave according to my rules, or ideals, or MY anything? Who died and left me captain of the world?

During these tremulous times of Coronavirus,  I have been encouraged by the selfless commitment of “other people,” who as Dale Carnegie put it when talking about a track coach training a jumper, throw their hearts over the bar and the rest of the body follows. I didn’t really expect this, but I’m not surprised, either. After all, just like me, these are God’s people.

[Found in Forward Day by Day. For more information, click For Today: Phillips Brooks Prayer above.]

Be Brave

Be brave.

My upstairs neighbor, George Greer, said that the first time he said goodbye to my nine month old son, Colin; they were his parting words to Colin every time after. I thought it was an amusing way to part company with a baby at the time, but over the 20+ years since, I’ve come to see it as a powerful benediction:

Be brave. Take on the day’s adventure  – who knows what will happen on any given day, in any given minute? Do the work which may be necessary but won’t always be easy or fulfilling.

Be brave. Don’t hide who you are. Meet whomever and whatever comes as your true self, not hiding behind a mask.  The world may knock the stuffing out of you sometimes, but it will also provide steadfast companions to help you on your way.

Be brave. Don’t live a lesser life because a deep one involves loss and pain. You can change the world in ways no one else can, but it takes some fortitude.

Be brave. With God’s help, be brave.

Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties. 

[For the full prayer, click For Today: Phillips Brooks prayer above]

O God

The world wasn’t created by me, and it isn’t limited to my life span or experience. I wasn’t self-created, and I’m not self-sufficient or self-sustained. I am a beloved child, living in God’s creation – not the center of it.

As I begin my day, may I remember that this life of mine is a gift from God. I am never alone.

And the same is true of everyone and everything else.

For the full prayer, click “For Today: Phillips Brooks Prayer” above.

For Today: A Prayer by Phillips Brooks


It’s the last thing you read before you leave one Forward Day by Day for the next one. I’d call it a way to redefine the day from a given number of hours to accomplish tasks to another chance to live humbly before God and in loving relationship with self and neighbor. It was written by Phillips Brooks, the man who penned the word to “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and served as rector of Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts. There’s an old fashioned air to this prayer, and a powerful use of words. It’s going to be the focus of these post-Easter writings, and my daily prayer. I hope you join me in praying:

O God: Give me strength to live another day; Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people; Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity: Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Forward Day by Day, Forward Movement, Cincinnati, OH, www.forwardmovement.org]

This is the first in a series on this prayer. For more on this prayer, click “For Today” above.

What will I do with it?

Monday, April 13th, 2020

The wind howls outside, shaking the windows and snapping the flag just over my back fence. Power lines dance and branches clap their twiggy hands. The storm will continue for hours, then move on – not the same deadly force it had in the South, but enough to offer downed lines and flooded roads.

I don’t fear the storm – my house is well built and I’ve seen many a more severe one. In a few hours, the sun will return; in a few days, the seeds I planted yesterday will be green shoots. I can enjoy the wild weather because the mild days are on the way. Life renews itself, asking little of me but recognition and participation.

But weather isn’t the only storm. Everyone is hunkered down, waiting for the pandemic to pass. Many have perished, and many more are suffering. This will end, just as the storm out my window will, but the cost is far greater and the damage far worse.

When I can return to something like my normal life, will I do so with a greater appreciation for the blessings I have? Will I do my best to make sure that the part of this world I call my home is better prepared should it happen again? Will I take action to strengthen and serve the most vulnerable among my neighbors?

What will I do with the time I am given? Will I live a resurrected life, a grateful life, a holier life? I hope so. Will I return to old habits that waste time and effort, focus on myself to the exclusion of others, take my life for granted? I hope not, but I expect I will – at least in part.

God forgive me if I live the rest of this life as if Easter never happened.

Perspective

With a pandemic redefining our daily reality, in light of the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu found in The Book of Joy, at this time of remembering Christ’s crucifixion, maybe I can be brave enough, loving enough, and wise enough to…

[Window decal bought at Macro World, Portsmouth, NH]

What am I waiting for?

Asking the Impossible

My God,

All these things I’ve prayed for these past few weeks are things I cannot accomplish or attain; growing in faith and living a prayerful life are beyond my limited spiritual capacity. I need a love far deeper than my own to steady me, to guide me, to embrace me when I fall and when I stand. I need you.

I know what I’m asking for is humanly impossible. But you aren’t limited by my limitations. Have mercy, have patience. With your help, I’ll try to do the same. Amen. 

[Kyrie, Mr Mister, Welcome to the Real World, RCA, 1985]

And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

A Morning Resolve, Forward Day by Day, inside front cover; Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement. www.ForwardMovement.org.