By Tom Murphy, SJ, Arrupe Jesuit Community, Seattle University
In my role as a History professor, I often do reading in the field of human rights. While pursuing this practice recently, I came across a prayer for human rights, attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us all at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to you for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying: make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness people hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.”
St. Ignatius would love to dialogue with this prayer. It echoes several features of his spirituality: the restless search for God; the constant discernment of the where the Spirit is leading; the letting go of the conviction that we can direct human affairs without divine assistance. I think too of how Gerard Manley Hopkins would like the prayer’s theme of our bringing forth to ourselves the deep beauty of the world and its people.
It is this last point that moves me to prayer of my own. In the past couple of years of pandemic, the world has seemed more dangerous and its beauty less obvious. I have experienced at times a desire to shelter myself from the world and its apparent threats. O God, help me to see that the beauty you have given creation transcends what pulls it away from you. We, and the world we are in, will fully find you one day, and me need to cherish that hope. Ignatius would challenge Eleanor Roosevelt on one point: that there is no reaching the final destination. In the Spirit we will, instead, reach the fullness of life. Amen.