I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1,2 The Book of Common Prayer, p.779).
As we celebrate the feast of the martyr Polycarp, these words from Psalm 121 have a lot to say.
We are reading and/or hearing of stories of how the Coptic Christians are giving their lives in witness to their faith. Yet, what is really amazing is that we have seen Muslims and Christians come together in various places to guard not only their faith, but also each others dignity. There are photographic images of Muslims making a human circle around the Coptic Christians as they break bread together. In return, the Christians make a human circle around the Muslims as they exercise what is important to their religious tradition. In the face of horrific violence and the very real threat to their personal safety, their single concern is to safeguard each others faith. The faith they believe and practice in worship, is becoming what they do in real time.
Among the most important truths about centering prayer and/or contemplative prayer is that what we experience should become what we do. The words from Psalm 121 are the most beautiful of prayers. There is an acknowledgement of our inability to have all things in life planned and/or mapped out. We can accept with humility our limitations and failures at various times in our lives; and let them them go. When we let go we are able to receive in faith the help that comes from God who made heaven and earth.
As we wander through the wilderness during our Lenten journey, we will face the best and worst of ourselves. We will see areas where we have really been growing. We will also see in a clearer light; those sins, wounds and behaviors that need our attention in the presence of our loving and healing God. The message of the Temptation of Christ is that in our times of testing, God is with us and loving us whether we succeed or fail. God is there reaching out for us to redeem, heal and console. We can accept and let go because God is never far away.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB