Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prayer Deals

Often the wisdom of a child is compelling, provocative, and downright corrective!

This was in a letter to the editor from Rebecca Goodwin, mother of Michael Goodwin. Michael is six. He wrote to president Obama: "Dear President Obama. Congratulations! Please make no more wars. I will not litter. Sincerely yours, Michael Goodwin."

How simple, direct and beautiful is that! Michael's mother makes a similar point adding that if everyone made a commitment to change one small thoughtless habit, like littering, the whole world could change.

I began to think about what I often think about: How does this wisdom mirrors the love and work of G-d? There are two ideas about covenant in biblical literature. One is a covenant of grant. It is initiated by God, a free gift of grace, an free offer (take advantage of it now) to partner with humanity in the work of healing the world in the work of loving our neighbors, of not doing what we hate to anyone else.

The other covenant idea is a covenant of transaction or mutual promise. It too is initiated by Godde but has some terms. This is sensible, because it adds the idea of commitment to the primary covenant.

For example, we marry for love, to love and be loved. Between the lines of our vows we promise to forgive the pain each one's shortcomings will inevitably inflict on the other and on the relationship we share. That's a covenant of grant and intention, of free giving of love with promises attached to it. Something like "I will not litter."

Michael is growing up. A sign of that is his willingness to be mutual with an authority figure, to take his citizenship seriously in return for the government's willingness to use its power for peace not war.

We make deals in our prayers all the time. It's okay as long as we keep our part of the deal and try to be compassionate and forgiving for Godde who has a much more complicated job and really can't be blamed for citizens who are free but thoughtless, who litter without regard for neighbor or neighborhood, and who aren't as grown up as Michael.

Dear Godde, Please be peace in the hearts of all world leaders. I will not forget to send my prayer thank you notes to you for all the hard spiritual work you do inside stubborn souls. love, Lyn