Monday, September 23, 2013


Yesterday (Sunday) morning, one of the closing prayers in the Benedictine prayer book I use on a regular basis was:
   You are with us, faithful God, revealing yourself in
   every experience of our lives.  Help us to stand firm
   against all that would take us from you and to rejoice
   in steadfast perseverance, preferring nothing to your
   love.  We ask this inspired by the life of Jesus and
   strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one
   God forever.  Amen.

It's a lovely prayer.  Since I have been using this book for a number of years, I imagine I have prayed these words dozens and dozens of times.  It is a prayer which reminds me that God is indeed in every moment, every person of our lives, and longs for us to hold fast to that love of God's which the psalmists repeatedly call 'steadfast.'

But it was not until I was driving down to the church an hour or so later, that it hit me - I had not prayed the words as written on the page!  Instead of "inspired by the life of Jesus" what I had whispered in my mind was impaired by the life of Jesus.  As I mentally kicked myself, or at least as best as I could while steering a car, I put down the misuse of the phrase as a simple case of the tireds.

But I've been wondering . . . am I impaired by Jesus?

If I go through the day WUI (Walking Under the Influence of Jesus), I tend to look at the world with different eyes.  I see the mist over the schoolyard as Maya and I walk by, and I think of how the Holy Spirit hovers over our lives.  I hear the news of another mass shooting somewhere in the world, and breathe a prayer of thanks for all those helpers who show up to bring healing, hope, rescue.  I watch the mother whose bone-weariness from a 14-hour-day is dropped to the ground as she scoops up her toddler who runs into her arms, both laughing in pure delight.

If I go on a bender, drinking in all those parables of Jesus about prodigals who wonder if they will find the door slammed in their face if they dare to return home; about those dreaded outsiders who model God's compassion better than the insiders do; about a kingdom which is filled with the rejects, the losers, the broken, the forsaken, rather than the pious and the platitude speakers, I discover myself noticing people I have overlooked before, wondering what I might be able to learn from them.

If I binge myself on all the passages about the grace and mercy of God, I move through the day just a little bit more gracious; if I stuff myself with all the examples where goodness is exalted over evil, kindness over rudeness, love over hate, I want to holler to those around me, 'come and try some of this!'  If I can't make it one more moment without another story of Jesus' radically inclusive nature, I am less likely to hide in the shadows hoping that person ringing the doorbell of the church will just go away.

Impaired by Jesus?

I can only hope.

© 2013 Thom M. Shuman