If you have attended a CiRCE conference the odds are pretty good that you have prayed a prayer with us that includes the words: “teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.”
When I say these words, I am usually asking with in interesting attitude of expectation: I expect something terrible to happen today so I am asking God to teach me to accept it with “peace of soul and firm conviction” because it’s going to be hard to take.
There are many things this being that I call “I” want, and chief among them is to avoid pain and sorrow. So when those rotten things happen, the consolation prize I seem to seek is that somehow, somewhere, there is an explanation in God’s will – God is in charge, so it’s okay, don’t ask me how.
In September Karen and I went to northwoods Wisconsin, to the gloriously charming little town of St. Germaine, where we stayed in a cottage for a few days on Little Lake St. Germaine. When I was a boy I went to this area with my friends, the Kisslings, and my friend Todd taught me how to fish, ride trailbikes, and all around have a mad boyish time in one of the antechambers to the Temple in Heaven. So for me this was a trip both backward to my childhood and into eternity.
One day this September, I went out onto the lake in a kayak under a translucent, crystalline northern Wisconsin sky, like sapphire spread thin over my head. I paddled around lethargically on the placid waters for a while and then, near a buoy, I pulled my feet out of the kayak and rested them on the sides, leaning back and looking up.
The water was calm, the sky was clear, the air was still, and everything was silent, like a monastery before the monks begin their chant or a concert hall between the tuning and the playing. I felt like I was close to heaven.
In my sloth that morning, I had neglected my prayers, so out there on Little Lake St. Germaine on a heavenly September Wisconsin morning, I tried to make myself feel better about myself (God’s opinion hadn’t changed, but I continuously forget that) by praying the prayer above.
Around the time I reached the words, “Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all”, a jet black and snowy white bald eagle entered my vision from the trees on the nearby shore and circled me – and my soul collapsed within itself.