I have been an enthusiastic user of Twitter for two years and follow an eclectic mix of people, a combination of scientists, writers, yoga and meditation practitioners, religious folks and people who are just plain fascinating. In short, I follow a group that reflects the mix of my own concerns and interests.
In the last two days as our country has witnessed the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, Twitter has been my go-to place for news, but it has also been one of my go-to places for spiritual comfort. Many of the people I follow are in shock, hurting, angry or even showing signs of despair, yet here is where I have found comfort.
I, too, fear for the future of my country at this time and I have been grateful for the places online where I can gather together with others and pray, such as the Virtual Abbey, an online monastic community that tweets regular prayer of the type one could find in a monastery. At times like these, I find that going back to the ancient traditional forms provides the most comfort. These prayers have been around for hundreds of years for a reason: they speak to our souls, and they do it in ways that are timeless and profound.
Some of my more scientifically-minded followers often dismiss the value of prayer, looking to one or another scientific study about whether prayer can help heal illnesses, for example, or has some other sort of desired physical effect on a natural physical phenomenon. These functions of prayer are of little concern to me, and I often wonder why scientists are so concerned with proving (or disproving) that supernatural events can be influenced by prayer.
There are many types of prayer: prayers of thanksgiving, intercessory prayer (this is the type that some of those scientists confine themselves to studying) and prayers asking for guidance or strength, just to name a few. For the past two days a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assissi has been running continuously through my mind, and I wanted to share it here with you since it is one of the latter types of prayers: a prayer asking for the strength and guidance we need at times such as the ones we are facing.
Peace be with you.
A Prayer Attributed to St Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we 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 is in dying that we are born to eternal life.