Almost every day for the past couple years, I have prayed the peace prayer of Saint Francis. The first segment of the prayer goes like this:
Lord, make me an instrument of your 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;
where there is sadness, joy.
Today, on my evening walk, I hiked along the path to the cadence of these lines.
Here’s the thing: Always before, when I’ve prayed this prayer, I’ve prayed about ways I can be an instrument of God’s peace in the world. Where can I sow love and pardon and faith and hope and light and joy among my family, at my job, in my community?
But tonight, a new thought landed in my head: Could I also be an instrument of God’s peace in my self? Could I, when I find hatred in my heart—could I sow love rather than stoking the fire of my wrath? When I act in a way that injures my soul, could I plant pardon rather than self-loathing in the wound? What if I learned to sow faith in my mind when I encounter doubt, and hope when my heart despairs? What if I could search out tiny seeds of light and joy to plant deep in my darkest, saddest places?
I’m not talking about denial here, or brushing off real pain that needs care. I am wondering, though: what if part of that care is to choose what sorts of seeds I will plant in my own heart, in my mind, in my spirit—just as I choose the seeds I will plant in the world?
With God’s help, can I become an instrument of his peace for those I love?
And can I include myself in that number?