◊  Saint Genevieve, pray for us

The following poem/prayer is by Fr. J. Michael Sparough, S.J. It originally appeared in the journal Presence, Vol. 1, Number 1, January, 1995. My spiritual director read it to me about two months ago from the book, A Retreat with Our Lady, Dominic and Ignatius.

This poem/prayer hits the very center of everything for me. Every line applies except the one on sermons, but since I’ve given quite a few talks at retreats, I suppose it is similar enough. (I have done some light editing with the first line, line breaks, indentations, and stanzas.)

I admit the truth hidden in my heart.

I’ve read books on trust.
I’ve heard tapes on trust.
I’ve written journals on trust.
I’ve preached sermons on trust.
But let’s begin by my admitting:
     I don’t trust You, God.

I’d like to trust You.
I’ve prayed to trust You.
I’ve told others to trust You.
I’ve told others I trust You.
But the truth is closer to fear.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid of You.
Yes, You:
     all-judging, all-seeing, all-knowing You.
Yes, me:
     semi-controlled, semi-consistent, semi-confused me.
I’m afraid of what will happen,
     if I ever really entrust my life
     into Your all-powerful, almighty,
     all (hopefully) merciful hands.

I’ve heard stories about Your sainted friends,
     waiting dark nights in the cell of their souls,
     losing their heads at the most inopportune times,
     fed to the lions for lunch,
     or dressed up for dinner, roasted medium rare.

You see I’ve talked to Your Son, and He assures me
     no servant is greater than the one who sends.
So, yes, I trust You’ll lead me to a lonely hill
     where three nails and
     two wooden cross beams are waiting.
This won’t come as a welcomed surprise.

And to tell you the truth, I can’t trust You’ll return
     three days later to keep your promise
     to roll that stone away.
I’ve been abandoned and betrayed already, thank You.
The most trust I can muster is to entrust You my heart—
     five minutes at a time.

Come, take me as Your own.
I give You all I am, and all I ever hope to be.
I am Your servant, Your friend, Your child.
Transform me, possess me, liberate me, fill me.
Do with me what You will—
     for the next five minutes.

Then, please, come back again.
Knocking at the door of my heart,
Reextend the invitation.

— J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

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