Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I so appreciate how the words turn around our normal expectations about the way to live and be happy, and to thrive. We can think that the meaning of life, having a full life, is all about us and getting what we want and believe we need, when often life is most deeply about reaching past ourselves to see how we all are connected and need each other. The words feel very healing to me.
Brugh Joy, in a workshop I attended, told a story about St. Francis that spoke deeply to me. Francis was born to wealth, and, while he wasn't always happy to be wealthy, he avoided unpleasant situations and people for much of his young life. But God was speaking to him, and at some point, he realized that he needed to do what he most feared. Brugh saw this as an example of a person challenging his shadow, that disowned part of ourselves, by doing the thing we most fear, by facing the thing that most challenges us. So, the story goes, Francis sought out a leper, whom he feared, knowing that the disease was highly contagious, and he put his hand into the wounds of the leper. In doing so, he faced his deepest fear and found himself transformed. After that, he was not the same man. Brugh used this story to illustrate how we can be transformed by facing our fears and doing the thing we fear the most. While I have no illusions that I'm like St. Francis, dealing with cancer, having a life threatening diagnosis, and being faced very powerfully with my mortality has certainly required me to face some of my deepest fears. And I'm still struggling with all of it . . .
For Christmas last year, I asked Patty to give me a mobius bracelet of the St. Francis Prayer. (A mobius bracelet has no beginning and no end, because a twist in the metal keeps the circle - and the words - going; see illustration at top of this post.) I had discovered them for sale on Healing Baskets, a website that sells custom made baskets for folks who are sick, including those with cancer. My friend Mary sent me a basket last summer, and it was filled with special wonderful items to heal and soothe and support (bath salts, a pad to warm in the microwave, ginger candy, and so on), and when I ordered a basket for a friend last fall, I discovered the mobius bracelet with the St. Francis Prayer. I like silver anyway, and the silver bracelet is just $75.00. So Patty gave it to me, and I've worn it most of the time since Christmas (except when we were in St. John, because I didn't want to worry about losing it).
Wearing the bracelet, having the first part of the prayer there and available to read through and meditate on is a wonderful soothing exercise. I love the prayer, I love my bracelet, and when my illness has me really down and worried, I feel better remembering the prayer.