Prayerful Perspective Yields Unexpected ‘Gift’

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An ancient prayer I’ve uttered upon awakening for 30 years became a rock I clung to during a traumatic experience. Metropolitan Philaret, an Orthodox bishop in the early 19th century, penned the prayer: “God, grant me the strength to greet the coming day in peace, help me to know your will throughout the day. Reveal your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Help me to treat each person who comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. In my words and actions, guide my thoughts and feelings. Help me to act firmly and wisely, without embarrassing or embittering others. Give me physical strength for the labors of the day. Direct my will; teach me to pray, pray in me. Amen.” As I walked across a street in a crosswalk one snowy February morning three years ago, a driver didn’t see me and made a left turn. Her car plowed into me and threw me to the ground. I sustained a broken left leg along with a badly bruised right elbow. My wounded knee was immobilized and I was told to keep off it for six to eight weeks. The nonweight-bearing directive from the doctor set my head spinning as I immediately calculated how that would translate into dates that I had etched in my brain. I run a faith formation program for a Catholic parish and First Communion was scheduled for April 30. The eight-week mark was a full two weeks before the ceremony. That provided as much relief to me as did the Motrin. In an instant, I was plunged into the position of having to rely on others for so many things: meals, food shopping, cleaning, help with dressing and bathing. I was overwhelmed. Five days after the accident and finally acclimated to the new reality of living on the first floor of my three-story house, I resumed my daily discipline of spiritual reading. It was still dark outside, so I lit the battery powered butterfly candle my dad had given me as a Christmas gift and prepared to open my prayer book. But before my eyes gazed on the page, out of habit, I uttered the morning offering that is as familiar to me as my name. It wasn’t until I got to the fifth line that I stopped and had to repeat the line to myself a second time to make sure that this was truly what I had memorized, “In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.” The tears streamed down my face as I realized the accident five days before was surely an “unexpected event.” It’s a law of physics that an object in motion remains in motion and I happened to be walking in front of that car in motion. That is truly an accident. But when I viewed it through the lens of “all are sent by You,” how could I not accept it as a gift? That perspective of “gift” guided my recovery. What is not an accident is what the “gift” bestowed on me; a chance to rest, ponder and process the many events of my very active life. That gratitude has flowered into many different blooms through the years, not the least of which is the monetary settlement the accident yielded along with a new love relationship that developed during my weeks of recovery. Both have contributed to a peace of mind that was elusive. I recite that prayer daily and remind myself to view life’s events from a different vantage point, knowing that the small piece I see is only a portion of a much larger, grander picture orchestrated by a Creator who only wants the best for me.

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