The words waft across the pond, like a bridge between England and New England. Dean Robert welcomes the day and listener to join him for Morning Prayer in the Deanery gardens of the Canterbury Cathedral. “The night has past and the day lies open before us…let us rejoice in the gifts of this day.” And morning after morning, like a swallow to Capistrano, I return to a peaceful place in the midst of a pandemic that crossed international boundaries and revealed terrible truths about our nation and ourselves.
Daily we’re bombarded with words and images like weapons of mass destruction. In contrast the Dean’s words bless mind and heart. His reflections carry wise instruction from the Bible and history and his calm presence, set among nature, green and pulsing with critters and creatures, delivers peaceful, yet powerful encouragement. For a brief moment in time, it’s as if heaven and nature sing a fresh version of JOY to the world. Fear not, God’s alive and well. And we need these words and images to combat the pernicious influence of fear and lies, more virulent and destructive than the virus.
Every morning Dean Robert cites significant people and events from long ago and recent times. History matters. Two significant agreements took place in Paris on September third. In 1783 the Paris agreement was signed which ended the Revolutionary War and set us free from England to become who we declared our nation to be in our Constitution. As recent protests demonstrate, we aren’t there, yet. Then, on September 3, 2016 we signed the Paris agreement on climate change. Since then, we blew up that bridge, pulled out and left other nations and nature to fend for themselves.
So, how are we to live in times like these? Well, for starters, each morning I open astonished eyes and say, “Thank you, God. I’m still here.” Even better than fresh coffee or bread, God comes with fresh starts, second chances at life. Perhaps, one way to “rejoice in the gifts of this new day” is to resist the temptation to see boundaries as protective walls, shielding us from them(who, also, were made in God’s image) and protecting our particular tribe’s way of life. It’s dangerous to tear down walls, cross boundaries and venture into unfamiliar territory to build bridges and Love God and our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus knows.
Well, we aren’t alone in this battle for our souls or our nation’s, as Biblical history attests. Joshua’s story still encourages us today. He trembled, about to lead the balky children of Israel into new territory. But God spoke into his quaking heart and still speaks to ours, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)
So, as we welcome this day, let’s see it for what it is, a fresh start. It comes as God’s gift of a second chance to build bridges and cross boundaries. We’re still here. Thanks be to God. So, I pray for us Dean Robert’s prayer,” Open our eyes to behold Your presence, God. Set our hearts afire with love for You.”
Love of and for God and others, can heal our souls and the soul of our nation.
That’s cause to give thanks for the gifts of this day, which includes you.
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