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I listen to NPR every morning while I make coffee (for my wife) and tea (for myself).  I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, partially because of the havoc it wreaks on my stomach and my blood pressure.  This morning while I was fixin’ caffeine (in both kinds) a story about meditation and blood pressure came on (Meditation vs. Medication).  There is much to recommend this story to all of us but in particular I was grabbed by the following line:

Sometimes, realizing that you’re not in control can make you more effective in matters where you do have control.

The specific context here was in talking to a man who was learning to attend to his breathing and anxiety as he drove instead of his mind racing to things he couldn’t control–traffic, other drivers, cell phone reception, etc.

You know of course that’s the essence of a prayer that has become the mantra for 12 step groups across the world.  It’s has come to be called the Serenity Prayer, but was written, and left untitled by 20th Century Theologian Reihold Neibuhr in 1943.  It’s about action, control it’s also about stillness and surrender.  In short it’s about seeking after God’s will and the courage to do it as we are able.  Here’s the full text of the prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. Amen.

I love the last part..where he asks only for to be ‘reasonably happy in this life’.  Seeking the will of God is more about the state of the world than my ultimate happiness in this life..that’s for another season of our lives with God.

May we all have the grace to let go of the illusion of control long enough to be reasonably happy today and work for the redemption of the world and the relative happiness of the whole of creation.

When you’re frustrated today–and I trust it’s a question of when, not if–I hope you can take a deep breath, meditate as you know how to do and just accept the world as it is, knowing that its transformation is God’s work and we are invited to participate in that and are not ultimately responsible for making it so.

To quote the title of the NPR story, may we have the grace to just say ‘OM’ (or a reasonable equivalent, a holy word reminding us of the Peace of God).

Be careful out there, we want to see you again!!!

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