More or Less

Lord, Make me an instrument of Thy Peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, 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. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

This prayer is attributed to Saint Francis. He was born in 1181 or 1182 into a wealthy family in Assisi, Umbria. He grew up in comfort, turned into a rowdy youth, and eventually looked for glory on the battlefield. His life plan altered when he encountered God. In prayer, he heard God tell him to rebuild the church. He devoted himself to a life of prayer, poverty and service. He is the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), usually called the Franciscans. He died in 1226 after a life of prayer, poverty, and service. His life, work, and words have inspired countless numbers of people.

where there is despair, hope;

Imagine More – the “I” in the ABC’s of Life plaque my friend Susan gave me a couple of years back. It means envisioning something deeper. When everything falls apart and the world is a small cell, see with the eyes of the soul something holy beyond the present circumstance. This isn’t optimism – that’s having a cheery vision of the future based on a good present. This is hope: trusting a gracious reality beyond what today indicates.

Despair is seeing nothing beyond today’s meaningless void. It comes on the gray wings of depression for some, through violence and neglect for others, and for no apparent reason for a few. Despair seeps into the lives of the poor and the wealthy, the famous and forgotten, and everyone in between. Despair thrives where Imagine More is missing.

I can’t always see the despair around me, and the despair I can see I cannot change. Only God can lift the veil of despair. Today I pray that my hands act as God’s, sowing hope. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart lead those in despair to imagine more. May my words and deeds never lead anyone to imagine less. Amen.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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