A prayer by the Dutch Jesuit Peter van Breemen has popped up in my awareness this week:
We thank you, God,
that you watch over us,
that it is not blind fate
which shapes our lives.
Your concern is for each of us.
You go with us on all our ways.
You remain faithful to us,
more than a father
is attached to his firstborn,
more than a mother
who cannot forget the child of her womb.
You know our names
and you set the deepest in us free.
In Jesus your faithful concern became visible.
He is the man who lived for others.
We believe that he is still alive and with us,
your Son and our Lord,
today and every day, for ever and ever.
Amen. (Certain as the Dawn (Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, Inc., 1980) p.55-56.)
Father van Breemen has written also on acceptance, and I noticed a thread of that, of God’s acceptance of us, in this prayer. More prose:
Acceptance means that I never give a person the feeling that (she or) he doesn’t count. Not to expect anything from a person is tantamount to killing (them), making (them) sterile. It is said that children with rickets scratch lime from the walls. People who are not accepted scratch acceptance from the walls. And what are the symptoms?
Boasting … rigidity … superficial joy … the desire to assert themselves, the frightful power to impose themselves, the excessive need for attention, the tendency to feel threatened, to exaggerate, to gossip , to suspect others: these are other symptoms of lack of acceptance. (As Bread Once Broken (Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, Inc., 1974) p.11-12.)
Sound familiar in our mixed up and crazy current events?
Maybe it’s easy enough to see the boasting, etc., in our political or ecclesiastical anti-heroes. Harder, perhaps, to see when it manifests in our own selves.
The prime example of acceptance is God’s, naturally. After his persistent affirmation of creation, the apex of his acceptance of us:
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Genesis 1:31a)
The line in the prayer above, “In Jesus your faithful concern became visible,” strikes me. Jesus was the incarnation of the divine acceptance of humankind. God affirmed, embraced, and accepted human form, and not only in the sense of what he created in Genesis 1. He lived with us, as us, from the inside out, as it were.
For the times when we seek acceptance, can we believe that Jesus’ life continues and he will face us and accompany us from the inside out of our own lives?