should pray for the deed which is now being done; that is, we pray that he should rule and guide us to his greater glory in this life and brings us to his bliss: and he has done everything to this end. (Julian of Norwich, chapter 42)
As I was kneeling at the altar at the Episcopal church we visited yesterday, I was reminded of a prayer I've often made throughout these past years. "Lord, grant me strength for the journey." To see the elements of the eucharist, bread and wine, as strengthening my soul is not new. What was new, yesterday, was realizing that strength and wisdom, love, peace, joy, gracious expressions of God's love, constantly surround me. They are not something that God needs to give me, as much as what I need to open myself up to. My prayer is the acknowledgement of my lack, yes, but not a means by which God unlocks the heavens. Grace has already been poured out, I need only to open myself to God's love, flowing in its many and varied forms.
This seems to be what Julian of Norwich is getting at in the passage above. If we come to God begging, we miss what is true. God desires to grant us every good gift. He wants to "guide us to his greater glory in this life and bring us to his bliss." To accomplish this, His strongest desire, "the greatest deeds have [already] been done." He has made us, formed us His "noble and excellent creation." Secondly, He has, through the life and death of His Son, Jesus, brought us back into open and free connection with Him and His life-giving, joy-bringing, love-delighting Spirit. Finally, He has made and continues to sustain the world around us for our blessing.
This morning, I found myself slightly anxious, my brow furrowing once again, reinforcing those indelible creases I noticed just a few weeks ago. The self-imposed pressure of writing regularly on this blog was making me anxious. I caught myself up short. Wait - how was this at all connected to the point of this blog, which is to choose joy? If I can't be joyful, why do I even bother? It's true I have some thoughtful points to make, maybe even helpful comments to folks who wander onto this site, but my life has to be first and foremost about joy, or it's all bogus.
After a minute or so, I realized that I had lost my focus. I had forgotten to begin the day with gratitude. God has given me so many good gifts. As Julian mentions, the gift of life, of his love, of his provision. He's also given me desires, planted in my heart, that He wishes to fill. He continues to surround me with His love. In fact, I am living in the ocean of His love. Some days swimming, some days floating, some days surfing, some days diving deep. This is what's true. This is what God wants me to remember today. To be grateful and let the joy flow in.