My friend and colleague Virgil, who has been active for years in efforts to curb the use of landmines and cluster bombs in armed combat, is spending this semester in Geneva at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research. From there, is is participating in our Retreat in Daily Living, Praying with the Mystics.
At the end of his week of prayer with Teresa of Avila, he sent me these parting thoughts, occasioned by the prayer we refer to as St. Teresa’s Prayer (Christ has no body now on earth but yours…Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes. You are His Body…). With his permission, I share with you his reflection:
Feet and hands and eyes. And ears. And wheelcheers. I have made some powerful friends over the past few years. Friends who have lost feet and hands and eyes and ears and bodies. While playing, while planting, while trying to make others safe; through innocent activity, or risky behavior on behalf of others. In other cases, their own bodies are intact, but they have lost the whole body and soul of a child or a spouse, who died while they helplessly watched life slip away. Every time I meet my friend Sladjan, he warmly greets me with a smile and thrusts out his plastic hand to shake my hand, my hand which still works as God intended. That plastic hand is God’s hand. Sladjan was a Serbain deminer, nearly killed when he was trying to defuse a Minnesota made bomblet that had failed to explode on contact – he lost both arms, a leg, a most of his hearing. Another friend, Soraj, was ten when a similar bright yellow object he found at a picnic in Afghanistan exploded and ripped off his legs. He father stopped the doctors from euthanizing Soraj out of pity. Now sixteen, Soraj joins Sladjan in sharing their stories with diplomats and politicians and anyone who will listen.
Teresa left out hearts and voices. Yours is the voice with which He speaks. Yours is the heart through which He moves. Oh, and wheelchairs, too.
Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
Martin Rinkart, 1644.