Prayer for Prayer

Lord make me an instrument of your 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’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Every year the date comes around and every year I remember the tragedy of 9/11/01.  Without fail, all the memories of the day flood back.  I have to admit that some are fuzzy while others are as crystal.  It was the last period of the day and I was sitting in my eighth grade Science classroom, two columns from the door, in the third seat back.  Attendance in the room was low because others had been called out of previous classes throughout the day, but there was another boy named Steve sitting in front of me.

After a few minutes of minimal conversation and zero teaching, the teacher began a somber monologue about what had been going on that day.  He then turned on the old bubble television in the corner and we watched as the news channel covered the three crashes and the subsequent disastrous aftermath.  Aside from the low drum of the news, the room was silent.  One more student was called out while we all sat in a muddled puddle of confusion, fear, wonder, anger, and disconcertment.

I don’t remember what my teacher said.  I don’t remember what my parents said when they sat my siblings and I down later that night.  I don’t remember the student’s name who was called out of the classroom in eighth period.  What I do remember is thinking I should pray, so, I did.  However, I didn’t know what to pray.  I sank into the depths of my thoughts, scrounging for something familiar and profound.

I found nothing.  I simply prayed, “Lord. I don’t know what to pray, but you know what I’m thinking.  Just… formulate the words I need.”

Now, every year, I find this prayer comforting and fulfilling.  I pray it over and over again and search the depth of the words each time.  I pray you, too, find some comfort and guidance in these words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  I pray you are the instrument the Lord plays to bring peace.  I pray you are the seed the Lord sows to love when there is hatred and anger; forgiveness when there is only thought of retribution; light when reality is covered in shadow; and hope when there seems no promise for good.