In my notebook I wrote down “just a great line” from Frederick Buechner’s memoir, Now and Then,
The chance that something better than what you are can happen, that something more than you know can be spoken and heard.
Later, I wrote that this line was certainly my prayer for that day… a day when I felt hopeless and like a failure because I said words that derailed the peace of my family. I prayed a centering prayer specifically for peace in the situation before it happened. I failed to make that peace happen. And that is precisely where the trouble begins; with me trying to make someone else see things as I do.
It wasn’t a bad thing to tell someone kindly but firmly how I felt; what moved me beyond something better was my expectation—expecting some other person to see things my way.
I cannot change what happened. The truth is that I am powerless to change either my own life really or other people’s lives.
In the Christian tradition of Compline, or prayers at the end of the day, I struggle to release contention, to surrender what is incomplete and even unpropitious. To consider this time of prayer as an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter the situation is almost impossible. Yet Kathleen Norris calls the evening offices of vespers and compline a surrendering of contention and a willingness to let the day go and “let God bring on the quiet, brooding darkness…”
Hope always comes from unexpected places. In Luke 1: 1-25 is the story of Zechariah’s encounter with the angel Gabriel foretelling the birth of John the Baptist. In verse 20 Gabriel says to Zechariah, “But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur” (RSV).
What stands out to me today is which will be fulfilled—its not in my control or simply fate—its God’s work. Putting my own expectations upon other people, expecting others and even God to see and say it my way get’s in the way. In quietness and trust will be my strength Isaiah reminds me. For Zechariah literally something more than he could know or speak was possible.