Monday, November 09, 2009

A memory of a gift from a long time ago....

When I was preparing to leave Athens, Ohio-my hometown and a point of return after college-for seminary; I celebrated a leave-taking with my home parish. Many gifts were exchanged. The rector had solicited letters from parishioners, many of whom had known me for the greater balance of my life. They had seen me grow, evolve, stumble, fail, suceed. I was given a chalice and paten by a parish member who was a potter. I was given a pectoral cross by and devotional books by other friends of the parish.

One gift has followed me throughout the course of my ministry, popping up again when needed. It was a simple decoupaged plaque that a Nigerian graduate student gave me. She had kept it for years herself, and wanted me to have it as I got ready to enter life. Seminary. Big City. Fast-paced and overwhelming. It was a simple prayer, written years ago by Wilfred Arlen Peterson. It came to mind yesterday as I sat with some young adults of the Church who are preparing to lead a retreat designed to offer people 19-30 a deeper connection with Christ and with an experience of Church that is outside of their home parish life. As I hurried through a busy day, and had a moment to just sit, rest and catch up with people who had been "youth" just a few years ago-and whom I had served as a youth leader at that time, this prayer came to mind. I offer it to you:
Slow me down, LORD
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision
of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day
the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and
muscles with the soothing music of the
singing streams that live in my memory.
Help me to know the magical, restoring
power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations,
of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat
with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few
lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to
send my roots deep into the soil of life's
enduring values that I may grow
toward the stars of my greater destiny.
-- Wilfred Arlan Peterson
 There you have it. Thanks to God and old friends for gifts that come back to us from hidden places in our past.

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