For all those things that settle my mind, strengthen my resolve and shelter my heart. These things that I have collected in order to continue on this road of life – a road filled with countless joys and unmentionable sorrow. What carries me may be vastly different from what carries you, but it is my wish that we all find that something that is enough. Enough to make life possible and full. Enough to allow us to withstand the fires of reality and embrace the beauty of our dreams. Something. Find it and hang on.
Lent is a time of reflection. Obviously, it is specifically associated with the Christian church and its preparation for Easter, but I suspect it is not a bad idea for any of us, regardless of our individual beliefs, to regularly take some time to consider who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. We make choices every day that impact our direction. Even not making choices sends us down one path or another. So many things influence us. So many circumstances seem to either stand in our way or open up doors.
Thinking about how we become who we are, and why, led me to this hymn. It was written by Kenneth Morse around 1942 – so quite a new hymn for this project! What caught my attention was the idea that something, in this case the Spirit of God, is needed to guide us, lead us and make us strong.
Move in our midst, O Spirit of God.
Go with us down from your holy hill.
Walk with us through the storm and the calm.
Spirit of God, now go with us still.
Touch now our hands to lead us aright.
Guide us forever, show us your way.
Transform our darkness into your light.
Spirit of God, still lead us today.
Strike from our feet the fetters that bind.
Lift from our lives the weight of our wrong.
Teach us to love with heart, soul, and mind.
Spirit of God, your love makes us strong.
Kindle our hearts to burn with your flame.
Raise up your banners high in this hour.
Stir us to build new worlds in your name.
Spirit of God, O send us your pow’r!
Once again, I am moved by some powerful images. This unseen thing that walks with us through both storms and calm, strikes the fetters from our feet, teaches us to love, is transformative, and lifts the weight of what is wrong from our lives. These are the things we all seek in our journey through life – this mysterious force that can raise us up above circumstances and ensure we can live the lives we hope for.
I recently had a conversation with someone who is struggling deeply with life’s disappointments. In trying to be of some comfort or help, I was reminded that I am extremely fortunate. I know this, of course, but when faced with someone who appears less so, it becomes very piercing. As we carried on our conversation over a period of days, what became more and more clear to me, was that this person was simply unable to find that silent, quiet, mysterious thing that carries us through storm and calm. And I felt as though the weight of the world’s wrongs was so heavy that it had become almost impossible to carry with only their own strength.
I had no answers to give, and no acceptable suggestions. It is very difficult to conquer anything when we assume that there is nothing out there that can help us. But, I know there is. Maybe it lies in faith. Maybe it lies in therapy. Maybe it lies in honest reflection on our lives. Maybe it lies in art, music, literature, nature, activity or rest. Maybe it lies in our relationships. Maybe it lies in the choices we make. Maybe it lies in places we can’t even imagine, but help does exist.
When I go back to these words, I am certain that the most critical part is the invitation for something to enter our lives and move. Move in our midst. There is much that we have absolutely no control over. But there is much that we do. When we are able to separate these two realities, we are able to see above the mire we sometimes find ourselves in. We are also able to see above our luck – and understand that there is much more out there than our own good fortune. To see that there are options when we feel we have none, and responsibilities when we’ve received our hearts’ desires.
Our lives are joyful and sad. This we share. As we take time to reflect, consider which side you find yourself on at this moment. And invite that beautiful, mysterious thing in that will carry you through or encourage you to carry another. Make the choice to rise above the good and the bad – for all is fleeting. Who we are is more than our circumstances and what we do or do not have. We are wondrous creatures. We can live wondrous lives, despite the views we are sometimes required to take in. We are equal in value and have treasured gifts. We can learn from each other, be kind, share, grow and change. Or we can be self-focused, dissatisfied, greedy, stagnant and stubborn. To ourselves and to others. Either way.
So, move in our midst. Kindle, teach and guide. I choose to accept these things from the sources I have found, from the sources that feed me. I want to move with them – sometimes very slowly, sometimes like the wind. I choose to accept that although my life is not what I envisioned, it is more than enough. And I am grateful.