I love thinking about words from prayers and songs. What was going through the mind of “X” when they chose these particular words? Expressing hope, sorrow, loss, the rollercoaster of emotions in the “gloves off” punching match- reaching the point when nothing but honest truth will do?
Too much ordinary conversation is polite but about nothing in particular… we ask about the weather, discuss the holiday in Little Rabbiting in the Weeds, and express “nice” wishes toward the other person. On the inside, we are simmering about the little aggravations or wailing with the intensity of our pain.
As a pastor getting called into the drama that is someone else’s life, every conversation can expose or conceal the “blue touch paper” that can rocket the emotion through the roof. Words matter, and words spoken with compassionate conviction can last a lifetime. Empty or careless words leave scars. Finding phrases that have stood the test of time becomes essential practice.
I can’t remember the first time I used these words of the “Sarum Prayer.” It has become a familiar friend…
God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in my eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart and in my thinking; God be at my end, and at my departing. Sarum Prayer, translated from French in 1514
The unknown wordsmith in France 500 years ago had a good day. Perhaps heard by them years before, perhaps composed for worship for a special occasion- who knows? There was one day when these simple phrases were used- and a heart melted as the questions of life poured forth. God IS here… God BE here in every moment… These words are a blessing, putting God at the centre of experience, in life and even death. The beauty of them is that they speak right now: a great prayer to start or end a day. A benediction, a commissioning, a prayer to give structure to the inexpressible thoughts that only God can hear…
It is a treasure dug out of the land beside the river of life and grace. Value it: and use it well.