Thursday, May 3, 2012

i pray for peace of heart, letter thirty-one, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to hear from you in the comments and imagine with you about this walking out in faith. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

When I woke up late this morning, only fifteen short minutes to race through clothes and shoes and coats, water splashed across my eyelids and books hastily gathered, I remembered this prayer. I found it years ago when I was convinced God meant me to be Catholic, and I wanted to verify that there was beauty in the Catholic Church - the beauty of prayer life, of meditation, of slowness.

Almighty and Eternal God,
Give me, I beseech You,
the great gift of inward peace.
Command the winds and storms
of my unruly passions.
Subdue, by Your grace, 
my proneness to love 
created things too much.
Give me a love of suffering for Your sake.
make me forbearing and kind to others,
that I may avoid quarrels and contentions.
And teach me constantly to seek after
and to acquire that perfect resignation
to Your Holy Will
which alone brings interior peace.

The prayer is for "peace of heart." Isn't that beautiful? How rarely do we think of peace as the great gift? How rarely do we beg God for it?

I have to confess to you, these last few weeks of school feel anything but peaceful. They are swelling with urgency and with ending, with the harsh tick of the clock, with the insistent reminders of countdowns and "senior formal" dress shopping and plans for reading day. I'm swimming through the hours wondering how there could ever be peace amid these last few weeks.

And to confess even more, I don't know how to want to pray for peace. My whole life I've loved the hurricane. I love the passionate, intense, everything-is-caught-up-in-everything feeling. I love the rush of feeling you get when you start to consider, and wonder about, everything that's going on inside your heart and head.

But it's not by harshness that our God subdues my proneness to choose His creation over Him. It's not be strict, unloving commandments, or by anger or wrath. He subdues what is unhealthy in us by grace. He offers us Himself and His love as the answer to our winds and storms.

I don't know if there is anything more beautiful than this kind of grace. The grace that teaches and leads. The grace that walks onto the water and rebukes it. This, this is the One who teaches us peace. 

And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

I know His name, Preston. I'm only at the very beginning of knowing who this is who commands the winds and storms of my unruly passions, but I can hear Him command them. I can hear His grace rebuke the wind and the raging water. 

And today, I pray for you. I pray that God would give you the great gift of inward peace. I pray that His grace would command your winds and storms. I pray that the love of Christ Jesus would astound you with its depth and breadth and height. I pray for peace of heart. 


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