Your will is our peace. Deliver me from the false choices that come from self-interest, cowardice, and lack of faith in you and give me vision and strength to do your will. Margaret Cropper, 1886-1980
The voice of true simplicity prompts us to discern the foolishness of looking out only for ourselves and thus overlooking both the common good and our own human limits. Martin Marty, Peace
Martin Marty, noted religious historian, authored a series of books that weave images, ancient prayers and scripture in a provocative reflection. This prayer and quote is from one of those books: When True Simplicity is Gained: Finding spiritual clarity in a complex world. “Common good” are the words that stand out to me. In this day when everyone seems to be out for himself or herself, when even people who are in positions to build that common good tout their own goodness, expertness, or contributions, it is difficult to see past our own interests.
I’ve been involved in a meeting for two whole days to ponder and act as an agent of change. The conversations are stimulating, actually affirming my own knowledge and practice. Yet, at times, I’ve wrestled with my defensive reaction to the complexity of the issues. There are tangible limits to my influence. The challenging twist is that I will not be the one to actually enact those changes, at least in this place.
As I think of what I have to offer in both spiritual and educational conversations, how do I get to a place that I am not conscious of my own contributions but unselfconsciously share from an abundance of living? Human limits draw me back again to ponder what is possible and the common good challenges me to consider “good” more broadly.
It is difficult to imagine the next steps in my life and that reality of unknowing calls for trust. Not that God is moving us and our lives around according to some pre-conceived grand scheme of things but that God is a creator—in all the fullest sense of that notion. We are participating in the process. I can take guidance from ways that close and not ignore my own limitations that continually blind me from seeing what is good and right and growing.
There is a twinge of recognition that I am moving toward something more whole—that this kind of wholeness wasn’t where I expected it to be or even imagined was possible for me– to borrow an insight from Parker Palmer, a hidden wholeness.
Guide me to discern the foolishness of looking out for myself and thus overlooking both the common good and our own human limits.