29 November 2011

A Prayer for the Everyday Life

At Candler I was introduced to a theologian by the name of Karl Rahner. Rahner was a German, which would normally bristle me as soon as I heard it. German thinkers are notoriously long-winded and complex in their writings. But Rahner is different. He writes in a way that pierces my soul. I have a collection of his prayers on my shelf, and it is a favorite among my sources of encouragement. Today, as we all find ourselves back in the "routine" after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, I wanted to share some excerpts from a prayer that has meant a lot to me. Rahner continues to encourage me, and I pray you will find some encouragement in his words, as well.

During this time of preparation, may we all find new ways to encounter the Holy who came in such an ordinary way.

Grace and Peace,

I should like to bring the routine of my daily life before you, O Lord, to discuss the long days and tedious hours that are filled with everything else but You.

Look at this routine, O God of Mildness. Look upon us who are practically nothing else but routine. In Your loving mercy, look at my soul, a road crowded by a dense and endless column of bedraggled refugees, a bomb-pocked highway on which countless trivialities, much empty talk and pointless activity, idle curiosity and ludicrous pretensions of importance all roll forward in a never-ending stream.
When it stands before You and Your infallible Truthfulness, doesn't my soul look just like a marketplace where the secondhand dealers from all corners of the globe have assembled to sell the shabby riches of the world?

What will become of me, dear God, if my life goes on like this? What will happen to me when all the crates are suddenly swept out of the warehouse? How will I feel at the hour of my death? Then there will be no more "daily routine"; then I shall suddenly be abandoned by all the things that now fill up my days here on earth. ... Maybe then I shall see the few precious instants when the grace of Your love has succeeded in stealing into an obscure corner of my life, in between the countless bales of second-hand goods that fill up my every day routine.

When I think of all the hours I have spent at Your holy altar, ... it becomes clear to me that I myself am responsible for making my life so humdrum. It's not the affairs of the world that make my days dull and insignificant; I myself have dug the rut.

Through my own attitude I can transform the holiest events into the grey tedium of dull routine. My days don't make me dull -- it's the other way around.

That's why I now see clearly that, if there is any path at all on which I can approach You, it must lead through the very middle of my ordinary daily life. ... I must learn to have both "everyday" and Your day in the same exercise. In devoting myself to the works of the world, I must learn to give myself to You, to possess You, the One and Only Thing, in everything.

So what should I say to You now, as I come to lay my everyday routine before You? There is only one thing I can beg for, and that is Your most ordinary and most exalted gift, the grace of Your Love. ... Touch my heart with this grace, O Lord. When I reach out in joy or in sorrow for the things of this world, grant that through them I may know and love You, their Maker and final home.


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