From The Pastor’s Desk
“The times they are a changing…”
These Bob Dylan lyrics keeps running through my head as we continue facing a global pandemic, social unrest, racial injustice, looming elections, political debates, the destructive forces of nature, schools resuming, some struggling to stay open, and people simply trying to get back to some semblance of “normal.” The times [aren’t only] a changing, rather it feels they have already changed and are going to keep changing.
For some this idea of change brings angst, discomfort, and a feeling of uncertainty; but for others, change has been too long in coming. We might not all agree on how change should happen, but surely in the face of undeniable inequities, injustices, and systemic issues from healthcare and education to racism and classism that have been laid bare by this pandemic and the other events of recent days and months, we can agree that things do need to change. Which is why getting back to “normal” really is not an option anymore. But how open to change are we? How open are we to being changed?
In a blog post from The Aspen Institute(1), Todd Breyfogle, speaks about what it means to open ourselves to a new reality and to others. He describes how easy it is to be closed to the world and to close our souls to pain. No one wants pain in their life, but the danger of closing ourselves to the world and the pain of others is that we forget how much we need each other, not just to survive but for all to thrive in our own unique and God given ways.
For some, the daily challenge of survival is very real and we shouldn’t make light of it; but for many of us, we have confused survival with being comfortable. We luxuriate in the ability to turn off the news when we get tired of it. We isolate ourselves from the pain of others when it becomes too much. We ignore the social tensions that have been bubbling beneath the surface for years and in some cases centuries, simply because we do not see ourselves as being affected by or as part of the problem. Perhaps this is what has to change – we must open ourselves to a new reality – a new way of seeing and being in our world. In short, we need to be liberated, to be opened up, to be let loose to be with God and those whom God loves.
In his prayer, Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me, Howard Thurman exposes what is true about us (darkness, fear, sorrow, weakness, sin) and that our only hope is to be opened up to God, emptied of those things, and then allowing them to be replaced with what is of God (courage, hope, peace, joy, forgiveness). The whole process is summed up in the last plea: “Open unto me – thy Self for my self.”
The times may be a changing, but in daring to open ourselves in the way that Thurman prays – to let things go – means we are also making room for something greater. What might we receive if we were to pray, with Howard Thurman, “Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me”?
Open unto me — light for my darkness.
Open unto me — courage for my fear.
Open unto me — hope for my despair.
Open unto me — peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me — joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me — strength for my weakness.
Open unto me — wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me — forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me — love for my hates.
Open unto me — thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me! Amen.
With you on the journey,
1Todd Breyfogle. “‘Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me’ by Howard Thurman: Reading and Meditation.” The Aspen Institute, 4 Jun. 2020, https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/lord-lord-open-unto-me-by-howard-thurman-reading-and-meditation/.