I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, part 5 (click Lent 2016: Saint Patrick’s Breastplate for the whole prayer)
Clenched fists, tight shoulders, narrowed eyes, pursed lips, angry tone and words – not a child having a tantrum, but a woman in her seventies I barely knew. She wanted to make money where she served as a trustee, ethically questionable as well as against trustee policy. As a fellow trustee, I objected. That was seven years ago. I’ve rarely seen her since, and barely given her a thought until the last few words of this poem brought her to mind.
I have no idea if she’s wishing me ill afar as she did once anear. I haven’t wished her ill, afar or anear, now or then. I opposed her. Did I stop her from doing something wrong and potentially harmful? Yes. Did I do something wrong and cause her harm? I’m sure she thinks so.
Lack of ill wishes isn’t much of an accomplishment on my part. Perhaps that’s the best I can do on my own. Beyond that, it takes an act of God in and through me. Perhaps my prayers should be two-fold:
God save me from those who wish me ill. God save others from my indifference.