Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Forgive our feverish ways

Last week, I seemed to be living in a perpetual state of outrage, expressed in my blogs on “The Boys of Baraka” and “Taking Responsibility for a Polluting Power Plant’ and several more that I couldn’t find time to write. A degree of outrage is health both for those who experience it and the society in which they (we) live. But if one lives in a perpetual outraged state, one can become overwrought… can become stretched taught like the spring on and old screen door that has lost its resiliency.

Sunday morning in Leeds Church, we used the liturgy of the Burmese Anglican Church (very reminiscent of the liturgy of the Anglican Church of Sri Lanka where I often attend the cathedral, close to where I live). Leeds as adopted the Diocese of Tengu, in Burma-Myanmar. Congregants, like most Burmese are suffering severe repression at the hands of a government that I would characterize not only as immoral, but evil.

But one of the hymns chosen reminded me to maintain a sense of balance, remembering that I do not control the world or fully understand God’s purposes. Quakers call this the Whittier hymn. I consider myself a Quaker, though I now often attend Anglican/Episcopal services. George Fox might be turning in his grave, but he did appreciate non conformity and seeking one’s own truth. The full text of the “Whittier Hymn” follows.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love!
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.

Words: John Greenleaf Whittier, 1872


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