Monday, August 01, 2005

Putting the CEO on Hold

At the nonprofit where I work, my next-door officemate is an executive whirlwind in charge of several different programs, each with multiple projects, that operate under our general umbrella. At any given time she is talking to three different people on three different phone lines, plus giving direction to some in-house supplicant hovering near her desk, all while attempting to compose an e-mail. Oh -- and that's not counting her cell phone. Much of her day is spent in this type of conversation:

"I need to put you on hold for just a moment..."
"Hello? know, I'll have to get back with you on that...can I put you on hold?"
"Yes? I see...I have another caller on hold, so I'm going to put you into my voice mail; give me your information, and I'll get back with you."
"Are you still there? I'm sorry -- I hate doing this -- I need to put you back on hold for just a moment..."
"Hello? I'm sorry -- now I have to answer the other line. Let me put you on hold...."

This is what I've been doing with, or doing to, The CEO, lately -- toggling the hold button of my prayerful attention on and off; mostly on. "I'll get back with you -- really I will." (I wonder if The CEO reacts to "Your call is very important to us..." the same way I do when I'm waiting on a phone line.) My intercessory prayer life is somewhat better, although some days these prayers are pretty truncated as well (one night my entire conversation with God consisted of this: "Please help my friends. You know who they all are and what they all need. Thanks. Amen.") But when it comes to communicating with God in a focused, transparent, heartfelt way, and creating space for God to answer -- some days there's just no there there.

I was going to try and render this thought into an amusing written dialogue between The CEO and myself but -- got nuthin'. Except this prayer by Henri Nouwen -- one of my pastor's professors back in divinity school, I just found out -- who has often given me words when I've had none of my own. Nouwen prays:

"Why, O Lord, is it so hard for me to keep my heart directed toward you? Why do the many little things I want to do, and the many people I know, keep crowding into my mind, even during the hours that I am totally free to be with you and you alone? Why does my mind wander off in so many directions, and why does my heart desire the things that lead me astray? Are you not enough for me? Do I keep doubting your love and care, your mercy and grace? Do I keep wondering, in the center of my being, whether you will give me all I need if I just keep my eyes on you?

"Please accept my distractions, my fatigue, my irritations, and my faithless wanderings. You know me more deeply and fully than I know myself. You love me with a greater love than I can love myself. You even offer me more than I can desire. Look at me, see me in all my misery and inner confusion, and let me sense your presence in the midst of my turmoil. All I can do is show myself to you. Yet, I am afraid to do so. I am afraid that you will reject me. But I know — with the knowledge of faith — that you desire to give me your love. The only thing you ask of me is not to hide from you, not to run away in despair, not to act as if you were a relentless despot.

"Take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms and give me rest, simple quiet rest. Do I ask too much too soon? I should not worry about that. You will let me know. Come, Lord Jesus, Come. Amen."



Kathryn said...

That's a wonderful prayer, and so much appreciated by another one who is expert at putting God on hold.
Thank you for posting it x

Charlotte said...


(*shamefaced look*) I haven't read any of Nouwen's stuff. What are some suggested starters? I have a trip to GTU in planning.

gekke mum said...

wow - just what I needed to read today. Thanks for posting it - and thanks od for bringing me here today.

LutheranChik said...

Charlotte: Oh! Oh! Oh! [grin] Where can I even begin? I don't think I've ever read anything of Nouwen's that didn't touch me somehow...Return of the Prodigal Son, The Genesee Diary, Compassion, The Wounded Healer, With Open Hands, Behold the Beauty of the Lord...just a few of his many wonderful books. If you do an Amazon search you'll find lots of Nouwen, including many anthologies and devotionals based on his writings...the titles I mentioned above are all excellent books, but you may also enjoy the anthologies.

LutheranChik said...

Joyful Mayhem: Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! If I might ask, how did you find out about my blog?

LutheranChik said...

Kathryn: Henri always has the words for me. He was such a great gift to with his Beloved forever.

Kathryn said...

An extra one for the list for Charlotte "In the Name of Jesus..." which was my prime companion during my pre priesting retreat, and gave me so much. I LOVE Nouwen. Does anyone else get the daily snippet from the Nouwen's a real blessing :-)

Scott said...

A great prayer... thanks for sharing it. I've read a few Nouwen books, but I don't recall coming across this.