These are uncertain times. There is so much that we don’t know about the virus that has caused the pandemic. We don’t know the full health impact on individuals, communities, and our health system, and we don’t know the full financial and economic impact either. We have hopes that the recent and continuing protests will finally mean that some action will be taken to address police brutality and to enact antiracist policies and structures in our country — but we don’t know yet what that may look like. And the election season is beginning to heat up. We can work to get our favorite candidates elected, but we have no idea yet what changes to our political landscape November will bring.
With every day that passes, it seems more clear that we don’t know much about what lies ahead! For those of us who like to be in control, or at least like to think that we are in control (!), these are very trying, frustrating, and even scary times. But perhaps there is a spiritual lesson we can learn now, one that is harder to learn when things are going well for us. And that is that even when things are good, we are not really in control of much in our lives! Especially in our complicated world, we are dependent on each other and especially on God.
As we look ahead, into the unknown, let us remember our need of community and of God — which in the end may be the same, since God is often at work in our lives through others. I was reminded of a helpful prayer in the book we read as a parish in June — Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark, which is itself a helpful meditation on the unknown. At the end of the book, Taylor includes a well-known prayer by Thomas Merton. Perhaps this prayer will help us all to trust in God more fully as we walk, together, into the coming days, weeks, and months.
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 will I 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.