Saturday, July 8, 2006

Commonplace Book

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Commonplace Book

This is where I am putting quotations that are meaningful to me, and my comments on them.

I Corinthians 13:1-13
New Jersusalem translation

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

"Love is patient" are words that came to me in our cancer caregivers' writing group yesterday afternoon as we wrote on the topic of "patience." None of us were sure where the words came from, but we all knew them. I realize that one reason I didn't immediataely recognize the source is that I'm more familiar with the traditional King James version in which love is called "charity" and instead of love being "patient," "Charity suffereth long and is kind."

Although I know the other translations, also (of the Greek agape). There are so many phrases in this letter of Paul to the Corinthians that are mainstays of my thinking. It comes as a bit of a shock to realize they are all here together in this one place.

Two other quotations came to me as I was writing, that seemed related to "love is patient." The first of these was Shakespeare's sonnet that begins, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds..." and the other was the "Serenity Prayer" attributed to St. Francis, although his authorship is disputed.

Sonnet 116
Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O, no! it is an ever-fixèd mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand'ring bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his heighth be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Hmm. I find out this not St. Francis, but Reinhold Niebhur, and that there are many versions of this prayer, supposedly written on July 1, 1943. There's an extended discussion in Wikipedia

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can; and

the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right, if I surrender to His will.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

All of these quotations are related to the topic of "love and patience."

These historical authors are so much more real to me now that I've visited Assisi and although we didn't make it to Corinth, we did get to Ephesus. And of course to Stratford-on-Avon and London!

Now what is the St. Francis prayer of which I'm thinking?

Prayer of Saint Francis

The so-called Prayer of Saint Francis is a Christian prayer widely attributed to the 13th-century saint Francis of Assisi, although it cannot be traced back further than the 19th century.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Interestingly this, like the "Serenity Prayer" is also used by Alcoholics Anonymous. I suppose that fighting against addiction is not too different from fighting to live with an incurable disease, or with any distressing circumstances beyond one's control.

An excerpt from my notebook: "Perhaps just as bravery isn't about not being afraid, but being brave in the face of fear, maybe patience isn't about being accepting and calm, but being patient in the face of panic, anger, frustration, and sorrow."

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