Forward Movement is a ministry established by the Episcopal Church that publishes a daily devotional entitled Forward Day by Day. It is a tremendous resource for prayers and it can be found online.
One prayer that has been part of the publication for many years is below.
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.
For a long time this has been one of my favorite prayers and the words within it seem incredibly relevant and appropriate for our current lives. Strength, courage, faith in fellow human beings, keeping our hearts in the right place, avoiding tit for tats, integrity, seeing what is good and right and true, joy, and being Christ’s presence for others are key themes within the prayer. I encourage you to use this prayer at the beginning of each day.
This last week in the news was the story about the giant hornets that are now on American shores. I love the outdoors and God’s astonishing creation, but frankly, these hornets look downright scary. One to the most disturbing aspects of these social wasps is that they sting and they do so mightily and painfully. Someone sent me a video of a fellow allowing himself to be stung just to see what it feels like. My reaction was, “Yikes.”
As I watched the video and the stinging wasp something interesting happened. I thought about the prayer I shared above and especially the line, “Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them.”
Over these last few weeks, I have witnessed loving acts of kindness, altruism, generosity, new levels of prayer, consideration, and words that reflect that we are all doing the best we can and we all need to cut each other some slack. That said, on occasion, whether through social media posts, letters to the editor, passing strangers on walks, or while shopping in grocery stores, I’ve seen people stinging others through behavior, words, or facial expressions. I certainly have had a stinging thought or two.
This time is more than upending and upsetting. I understand the stress and upset many of us are feeling. But through it all, I pray that as followers of Jesus, we, with God’s help, will avoid stinging anyone, even those with whom we disagree. “Oh Lord, keep us sweet and sound of heart,” the prayer I’ve shared says. What an amazing opportunity we have to allow ourselves to be the vessels through which God’s love is spread even when we get stung.