I am once again at my favorite early morning cafe in my neighborhood, same favorite booth with sparkly gold vinyl benches, same coffee in grumpy-man-face-mug.
This morning, I am sharing the seating area with a man who makes me nervous. It is not a very large cafe. He is fitfully standing up and pacing around and then jarringly returning to his seat near the door. He talks aloud constantly with copious use of the f-word.
I try not to make eye-contact. I am not afraid that he will steal my laptop… but I am worried that he might suddenly grab it and throw it across the room.
Every few minutes someone comes in. They order quickly and then leave. I am the only one who stays.
How do I start my day in this world of anxiety and fear? How can I find my own humanity… when I don’t regard every person I pass as fully human?
I don’t have those answers. So today, I will do what I often do. I will go to our ancestors. I will lean on their wisdom.
A Prayer of Thomas Merton
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me be the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
A Prayer of King David
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.