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 Today, Forward 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.