As we begin our new appointment I think of other beginnings in my life and what have been helpful ways to mark, celebrate, and enter into new adventures.
Sometimes a physical sign has been valuable. I think of the gold bands we exchanged at our wedding. The giving and receiving of rings is one of the outward and visible signs in the sacramental rite of marriage of the inward and spiritual grace and blessing of God to help us fulfill our vows. The rings symbolize our promises and God’s promises, made at the beginning of our married life and lived into each day. Recently, Joe shaved his “in-between jobs” beard and trimmed his hair. Goodbye Greybeard. Hello New Beginning!
Sometimes it’s been the acknowledgment that I am, in fact, embarking on an adventure. I think of the time in Divinity School I began a job helping a woman who had suffered a stroke. She needed help to keep her house the way she wanted it kept. I came with none of the necessary skills, only a willingness to learn, aided by the ignorance of how much I had to learn. She was a wonderful teacher, and very patient, especially since this wasn’t a situation she desired. When I arrived at her home for the first time, I stood at the bottom of a long staircase. She awaited me at the top and called down in a cheerful voice, “Well, here we go on our big adventure.”
Often it’s been a prayer. I have long prayed this one, by the late Edward Hays, from his book Psalms of A Planetary Pilgrim (Ave Maria Press, rev. ed. 2008)
A Psalm Before Beginning Work
To You, O Divine One, from whose hands comes the work of creation, so artfully designed, I pray that this work I am about to do may be done in companionship with you.
May the work that I will soon begin sing praise to you as songbirds do.
May the work that I will soon begin add to the light of your presence because it is done with great love.
May the work that I will soon begin speak like a prophet of old of your dream of beauty and unity.
May the work that I will soon begin be a shimmering mirror of your handiwork in the excellence of how I do it, in the joy of doing it for the its own sake, in my poverty over ownership of it, in my openness to failure or success, in my invitation to others to share in it and in its bearing fruit for the whole world.
May I be aware that through this work I draw near you.
I come to you, Beloved, with ready hands.
I didn’t know that Edward Hays had died until I checked on the source of this prayer for this post. He died April 3, 2016. His friend, the Rev. Mark Mertes preached at his funeral. The title of his homily was Don’t Just Believe in the Resurrection, Have One!
New beginnings, indeed, and available to all. Alleluia!