Saturday, September 24, 2011

Be quick to love, make haste to be kind...

Yesterday I led a retreat day at the beautiful Valle Crucis Conference Center. The title for the day was: "In the Midst of the Long, Long Season: Spiritual Practices to See Us Through Ordinary Times." Seventeen women joined me for this day of reflections, prayer, sharing and silence.

At the close of the day I offered a blessing that I often use at St. John's:

Life is short
and we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So be quick to love
and make haste to be kind.
And the blessing of God who loves you
be with you this day
and always.

One of the women, Rebecca, an awesome Baptist minister from Elkin, NC, asked me if I knew who wrote that blessing. I told her I, too, had wondered about it's origin. I first heard it from Marcus Borg at the end of a sermon he preached during the Calvary Lenten Series in Memphis. But just the day before the retreat, I had seen a variation posted on a website (my friend Susan Copley's parish, Christ Church, Tarrytown, NY) and it had a credit. I told the group I would follow up and post it here on my blog.

So here is what a little digging and googling has uncovered. A man named Henri-Frederic Amiel is credited with writing:

"Oh, do not let us wait to be just or pitiful or demonstrative toward those we love until they or we are struck down by illness or threatened with death! Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!"

You can certainly see the origins of the blessing in this quote by Amiel. He was a 19th century Swiss philosopher and poet. Not a prolific writer but definitely a profound one.

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