Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mike and I had an ugly disagreement this morning and I came much too close to doing physical violence to him. We were watching the History Channel, a program about campus demonstrations during the Vietnam war, and I was trying to hear the narrator's summary statement at the very end. Mike started talking and I raised my hand in a "just-a-minute" gesture. He ignored it and just talked louder, annoyed that I had dare asked him to wait to speak. "Don't you hear the dog at the door?" he demanded.

It was his total disregard for my simple request that ignited my fury. "I've had it!" I exclaimed, and I jumped up looking for his cane to beat him to death. Totally exasperated, I was suddenly flooded with feelings that triggered the tears I've wanted to cry for a long time. The losses in my life that have piled up to overflowing - Mike's health, Mother's death, hometown friends, youth, control - it was all in there.

It was not a good cry, compared to some I've had. I immediately censured myself for having a "pity party," but a few tears escaped before I could turn off the faucet. Some of the pressure was relieved.

After about 10 minutes of emotional conversation and apologies, we had our devotional. The first prayer, A Morning Resolve, which we usually recite together, made me start crying again, so Mike did it by himself:

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking;
cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence;
exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then I read the Gospel appointed for today, Luke 18:9-14:

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

That passage hit me hard, especially the commentary written by our fellow parishioner Bill Burke. (We've been using the Lenten devotional book written by St. Philip's Ultreya members.) Just last night I had criticized a Baptist brother for seeing everything in black and white, claiming to always be right. Now who is the worst Pharisaical hypocrite, Cathy?

We closed our devotional with For Today as we normally do, together:

O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Thirty-eight years ago, I started working for Southern Bell Telephone Co. in Nashville, TN. Eight years ago I retired from BellSouth. St. Patrick's Day has always been special to me. From A Retreat with St. Patrick, here's one more prayer:

This day I call to me: God's strength to direct me, God's power to sustain me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's vision to light me, God's ear to my hearing, God's word to my speaking, God's hand to uphold me, God's pathway before me, God's shield to protect me, God's legions to save me.

May we all be inspired by Ireland's favorite saint, driving all the snakes we can from the islands we inhabit. May the greenness of the shamrock remind us we are ever growing and learning, and that none of us has reached ultimate wisdom or spiritual maturity in this life.

...dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne...


Zoilus said...

And may we Ulster Scots wear Orange on St. Patrick's Day (did you know the Protestants hold St. Patrick in great contempt, still? They think of him as a charlatan).

Happy William of Orange Day!

C J Garrett said...

I had orange on my mind while shopping this afternoon. Everything I bought for outdoor furniture was orange. Maybe it was the protestant in me.