William Ernest Henley writes in Echoes of Life and Death, “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Yet, sometimes it feels like we are bobbing around at the mercy of the sea opposed to being the captain of our own soul.
This past weekend we said goodbye to Patty, one of our church members, as she prepared to move to the West Coast. While ordained and serving as an ARMY chaplain, Patty reminded us that we are all ministers in our congregation as she led the morning's reflection. I realized in the service that most of our congregation is in the midst of transition. Some are facing more prominent changes than others, yet we are all facing various issues within our lives, careers, and families. Some are facing health concerns, others are in the midst of moving, children and grandchildren are growing up, and we've also been in conversation about what is next for our church.
Maybe you are facing changes, too. Perhaps the uncertainty of what lies ahead is scary, exciting, or a combination of the two. How can we approach this ever changing world without being overwhelmed with anxiety and fear? Maybe we can't, but it's important to find a way to continue to move forward.
At the end of our service, Patty led us in reciting a prayer from the 20th century monk Thomas Merton. Patty has printed out copies of the prayer for soldiers around bases she has served. Whether a soldier or a civilian, new and foreign places can be scary. May Merton's prayer offer comfort and strength when you find yourself seemingly lost in uncharted territory:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
We also renewed Patty's ordination vows. Check out the reflection and see a copy of the renewal of vows here.