Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind;
For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed
For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled
For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish
For those who face temptation, doubt, and despair
For the sorrowful and bereaved
For prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger
That God in his mercy will comfort and relieve them, and grant them the knowledge of his
love, and stir up in us the will and patience to minister to their needs.
Gracious God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of
those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer
I am just about to finish an annual 40-mile ultramarathon. It was originally for runners and walkers but has become more of a bicycle rally. I have biked it a couple times but this year simply drove along a parallel route, parked near the six checkpoints and walked across the timing mats. The event is loosely refereed. The challenge I set for myself this year was to keep from drinking for the whole length of the course except at the aid stations next to each mat. At mile 39, I got the urge to run again. And that’s what I am doing now. My stride is lengthening. I’m pushing myself and want to push even harder to enhance my sense of oneness with those who ran the whole way. Maybe next year I will bike the whole course again. Maybe even train so that I can run it or at least walk it. I see the finish line! I’m going to sprint until I cross.
The marathon is Lent. Driving a parallel route is cruising through Lent with token deprivation, superficial reflection, and more concern for comfort than compassion. Drinking at the aid stations is indulgence on Sundays, not counted as Lenten days. The urge to run, to join with others, is reflection on the above prayer that I read last night, Good Friday. Thoughts of exerting myself more next year are discontent with this year’s indiscipline, insensitivity, inaction. The finish line is Easter. I will celebrate it but probably not as wholeheartedly as those who have more attentively and appropriately participated in the Lenten season.
I hope that next year—or next week or today—when I pray that “God in his mercy will comfort and relieve” those who suffer, it can be with more of a sense that God-in-me—God-in-us--has comforted and given relief to those who suffer and that God-in-us will continue to do so.
Trails we follow,