The Welcome Prayer

I have to admit I’m really struggling this week. I’m angry at some recent news from an organization close to my heart. I’m disgusted by the political situation in the country where I live. I’m horrified by the people that excuse sexual indecency and the language of predatory sexual assault. I’m embarrassed by those Christians in leadership that refuse to remove their blinders and truly see what’s happening.

Meanwhile racial imbalance continues to effect communities across this country. More Syrians fleeing their ravaged homeland have died this week in trying to escape. Much of Haiti’s infrastructure has been erased by fierce winds and waters. Over 800 people died in the wreckage. Thailand’s beloved King has died leaving thousands mourning and in uncertain transition. Yemen is still reeling from the double bomb attack at a funeral last week which left 140 people dead and over 500 injured. The situation in Kashmir is heated and precarious. The Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, once again on trail for blasphemy, has had her case adjourned for the time being with the threat of false accusation still hanging over her.

It’s too much. Never before have I been so tempted to cancel everything, stay in my pajamas, and curl up in my bed for a few days. I’m heart sick and worn out from it all. I want to make friends with denial and ignorance. I’m done.

I was awake early this morning working on a different blog post. It was an angry rant full of passion and fury. As I was madly pounding at my keyboard I realized that the piece had taken on a life of it’s own. The words were nearly typing themselves. Anger was colouring in ugly shades outside the lines of reason and wisdom. I pushed my chair away from my desk, poured myself another cup of coffee and paused.

Leanna Tankersley tucks into her very insightful book, Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding, a chapter entitled, Welcoming It All. In it she includes the Welcome Prayer as written by Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk:

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions. I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself. I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

Tankersley goes on to say, “I love these lines, this concept, this practice. The Welcoming Prayer takes us out of our heads and into a space where we stop, even for a very few minutes, our analyzing and figuring. We relinquish our strategies and allow God to work within us, in the place where we are far more malleable than our mind. We are opening ourselves up to a divine encounter which is never a bad idea.” (Leanna Tankersley, Brazen, 2016. pg 200).

Admittedly it’s a hard prayer to pray today. I don’t want to “let go of my desire for power or control.” I don’t want to “let go of my desire to change any situation.” I’m rattling at my chain for change and decency and solutions and justice. But, if I’m honest, the rattling isn’t doing my soul any good. I’m worked up and out of shape. I’m a mess. I’d love to escape and avoid and hide.

Even as I sip my now lukewarm coffee, I think there might be a meaningful way to separate myself from the mess of it all. It strikes me that there’s a profound difference between burying my head in the sand and lifting my eyes up to see above the muck. Both refuse to focus on the crud and horror of what’s happening. But one gives me permission to welcome what God is doing. Looking up allows me to make eye contact with a broader perspective and with Hope itself! If I look up I see above the landscape, I see the horizon, wide and eternal, stretching beyond what I now know, making way for what’s to come.

Perhaps today is a day to breath deeply: in and out. I need to remember what is true. I need to be faithful to what I cannot see. I need to call to mind the presence of Christ and the Living Hope that dwells in me. I need to make space inside to choose to welcome what God wants to do in me.

My husband Lowell often quotes from the novel, Brothers K, by David James Duncan. There’s a scene in the novel where an old baseball coach is advising a young batter, “He said there are two ways for a hitter to get the pitch he wants. The simplest way is not to want any pitch in particular. But the best way, he said—which sounds almost the same, but is really very different—is to want the very pitch you’re gonna get. Including the one you can handle. But also the one that’s going to strike you out looking. And even the one that’s maybe gonna bounce off your head.”

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today—even the pitch that’s going to strike me out, even the one that’s going to hit me in the head and knock me out— because I know weirdly enough it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions—including trying to sort out the world’s wounds. It’s not easy but I’m going to try to let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself and the anger and angst I feel when I can’t. Oh God please help me open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

 

15 thoughts on “The Welcome Prayer

  1. Hang in there, Robynn–like Marilyn’s mom says, there have been MANY bad times before. We just do not have to live with them from day to day. I have been reading the book of John, and yesterday I read about Jesus “trial” before Pilate, and then the crucifixion. It always feels painful and unfair. Later on when we were watching the “debate” between two candidates who want to be the leader of this country, my steam was getting up and I knew I just had to get some clean air into my lungs. I jumped up, put the dog on his leash and went out to walk. I spent the first half just breathing to feel clean inside. Then I turned back and saw the stars! Suddenly I was thinking about the God who created them and who knows everything about them! It was THIS God who became a man (a feat that is almost bigger than creating stars) and who did NOT save himself from the ultimate human experience: death. But, it was not just that he died – he experienced terrible messiness beforehand. He was harassed by the RELIGIOUS leaders, who were the ones who were supposed to be connecting the people to God. He was betrayed by one of the people who was the closest to him. He was given to CORRUPT rulers, who did awful things to people, but in his case who wanted to let him go! And ultimately, the religious leaders whipped up the crowds to such a frenzy of demanding, that the corrupt Roman ruler who knew NO god, would not stand against them. As I looked at the stars, I began to feel the voice of the Creator near me, telling me that it is my CHOICE to either get steamed up over the voices around me, or to ignore them and focus my mind on a loving God who only wants me to follow him. I made the choice for the latter, and today I have been so peaceful:) I had forgotten that I DO HAVE A CHOICE!! As Christ followers in today’s world, we really do not have it that hard. We need to use our energy to stay peaceful and to show the love of Jesus to everyone we come in contact with. -xoxoxo

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  2. Thank you for these wise words. Ruth

    On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 9:16 PM, communicating across the boundaries of faith & culture wrote:

    > Robynn Bliss posted: “I have to admit I’m really struggling this week. I’m > angry at some recent news from an organization close to my heart. I’m > disgusted by the political situation in the country where I live. I’m > horrified by the people that excuse sexual indecency and the l” >

    Like

  3. Leanna Tankersley — I listened to an interview with her once and wanted to read her books, but now I can ask someone who’s actually read them (or at least one) — do you like her book(s)? I was interested in the “Found Art” book most of all.

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  4. Sweet Robynn…thank you for sharing your gift of writing with the world. These sentiments so much reflect the things going on in my own head…I need to more often pray a prayer of welcome…to lift my eyes above the current, the mundane, the horrific…and focus, instead, on the One who holds it all together…me included.

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  5. In our Community Bible Study last year we studied Isaiah – chapter by chapter, a really in depth study. Near the end of that I was reading Revelation in my devotional reading. The world has been in terrible shape many times before with God’s people a tiny remnant clinging to hope and losing everything else. But through it all God has been working and carrying out His plans, sometimes through very sinful leaders. We need to hang on to faith and hope and yes, joy and go on, each one of us, just being faithful to our calling wherever He has put us – it’s still His world, His plan and purpose and He allows us the privilege of being a part of the great and glorious whole! Blessings Robynn – keep that WELCOME sign out! Our Lord is the Gate Keeper.

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  6. I love this Robynn. You expressed so brilliantly and honestly the unrest many of us can relate to when this world feels so out of control.
    Just prior to reading your blog, I heard ‘King of the World’ during drive time/lunchtime errands. (I think that’s the correct song title?!) The DJ offered the song as a reminder to place our hope & trust in the only One who has control.
    So hard to do with our limited human insight but your blog points to some beautiful nudges to get us there. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Thanks Robynn. I like your welcome prayer. It’s been a long time in coming (I just had a BIG birthday), but I can now honestly greet each day with “this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Relinquishing control is not easy. Perhaps the Lord will involve me in some situations; perhaps not. I’ll not worry. My blood pressure is good! And, oh, I sleep soundly every night! Just a little rejoicing with a little gladness helps me welcome whatever comes my way. It’s good for the body as well as the soul. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:23

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  8. Just beautiful, Robynn, and so WELCOME in my own aching, tired, discouraged heart! You have inspired me to lift up my eyes, above the muck and pain that is seemingly everywhere, and seek hope and healing. Surely the way out of feeling dispirited is to seek and embrace Spirit. Thanks for reminding me today!

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  9. This isn’t coming up through the link.

    *Cheryl*

    Cheryl Luce

    On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 7:16 AM, communicating across the boundaries of faith & culture wrote:

    > Robynn Bliss posted: “I have to admit I’m really struggling this week. I’m > angry at some recent news from an organization close to my heart. I’m > disgusted by the political situation in the country where I live. I’m > horrified by the people that excuse sexual indecency and the l” >

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    1. Cheryl…I’m so sorry. Maybe try again? Marilyn is the tech person on our two man team and she’s not available to help me sort this out! I’m so sorry.

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  10. Oops! That page can’t be found.

    Have had this happen with other posts. Pretty certain that I am not the only one and you have heard of this problem before. I am a Baseball kind of guy. You miss the strike zone 4 times, I take a walk. Sometimes your links work . . . sometimes not. Your current count – Ball 3.Maybe you can fix the problem.

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    1. Douglas–I do apologize. I’m not too tech savvy and my friend and co-blogger is not available to help me fix it. You might try on a different device. I do apologize for the inconvenience and frustration.

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