Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Litany for Running

Entry for 27 September 2008:

While I‘m out running, I have a little litany or prayer that I have been doing for many years (since about the time I turned 50, actually). The basic form starts like this:
Lady of the Universe,
You hold all things in your hands,
You hold each of us in your hands;
I ask you to hold ____ in your hands.
In the blank, I insert the name of various people for whom I have some concern: a family member, a client, a colleague, one of my children, and usually myself. I then imagine this person surrounded by light.

Then I continue with the second part, which I usually reach in the last few minutes of my run:
Lady of the Universe,
I don’t know where I came from before I was born,
And I don’t know what will happen to me when I die.
As far as I know, I come from nothing,
And when I die, I go to nothing.

Therefore, every moment is a gift,
every day is a gift,
every month is a gift,
every year is a gift,
and my life, my ___ years are gift.
Over the years, this little litany has helped me face and acknowledge my fear of death, which has largely dissolved in the face of this “radical acceptance” (to use Ann Weiser Cornell’s memorable phrase).

However, in past few years, the meaning of the “I” in “I don’t know where I came from, etc” has shifted to something closer to: “the small, limited part of me that calls itself ‘I’ die”. And usually when I get to this part of the litany, something in me answers back that it doesn’t really buy this anymore.

This is because this something in me has really come to believe something closer to:
Lady of the Universe,
I know that I come out of all that has gone before me,
And that all this continues to live in me,
In the same way that I will still continue to live,
as part of the pattern everything around me,
Living in all those I’ve known
and touched in some way.

This is the gift of this day, this moment,
this year and this life,
and is to be treasured and rejoiced in … forever.
This is what feels true to me know, and what gives me a sense of peace and acceptance. So last Saturday, coming back from a long, nearly 8-mile run, on a lovely late September Glasgow morning, I decided that it is time for a new version of my Running Litany, along the lines suggested. I’m not sure I’ve got the words exactly right, but it’s a start, which I plan to try out over the next couple of weeks.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Robert,
This is lovely. I may try to adapt it to use as part of my end-of-day mental review of where I've encountered God and what I have to be grateful for. Thanks for sharing it.
Stay well,
Becky Roth