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Prayer 46

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Now I am lost, forever punishable,
always immoral,
condemning myself to death,
shepherd of a flock of fetid sin, a flock of wild boars,
a despicable mercenary,1
a shepherd watching a flock of desert goats.
The image of the shepherds’ tent in the Song of Songs
aptly applies to me,2
for I do not know or understand,
by whom, in whose image or why I was created.

B

Behold, you were formed like an angel,
on two feet that take and bring you,
as if in flight on two wings lifting you upward,
to gaze down on my fatherland.
O fool, why did you choose to be earthbound,
always preoccupied with the worldliness of
the here and now,3
carrying on like wild asses in the desert?4
On the lamp stand of your body, encircling your head,
a chandelier with many arms was placed,
so that by its light you might not stray and might
see God and know what is everlasting.
You were doubly endowed in the womb of reason,
so that you might speak with an unfettered tongue
of the victory of the good things given you.
And you were endowed with artful hands and
nimble fingers
to carry out the practical affairs of daily life
like the all-giving right hand of God,
that you might be called God.5
You are assembled of 360 parts and five senses,
the number of the days of the year,
and no aspect of your physical being remains invisible
to your sight or unstudied by your mind.
For some parts are thick and strong,
some are small and others necessary,
some are sturdy but sensitive,
some are sublime, important and noble,
some are necessary but humble,
and the explanation of the image of these things is engraved on you
as on an uneraseable monument, wretched soul of mine,
so that like the elements of time
and the continuous train of days around the year
by some inner law these parts function
in unerring and inalterable order.

C

And now another spiritual image,
tied to the bonds of love uniting the church,
is also reflected within you.6
Like the yoke that mediates between the great
and the lowly,
the assembled body
established in the name of Christ is sometimes impaired,
as with the cutting off or loss of an unruly organ,
infecting the body.
Something is lost in your mortal structure,
feeling abode of mankind,
and the usual shape of the person undergoes
some disfigurement.
And now when the uniquely miraculous structure
in the living image of God,7
is completely condemned, my enslaved soul,
that original likeness is stolen from you as
by breaking the law in the Garden of Eden.
But by the light of the baptismal font
the breath of the Holy Spirit is received and
the image is restored to God’s likeness.

D

And now, why did you give up heavenly glory
like the original man Adam did in the earthly
Garden of Eden?
8
Why did you yourself close heaven and lock
the door to ascent?
Why did you mix the clean water with
impurities of bitter tears?
Why did you soil newly washed clothes with dirty work?
Why did you put off the clothes given you
and put on the cloak of sin?
Why did you infect the purity of your feet
by taking the path of the fallen? 9
Why did you repeat the violation of just vows of
the Old Testament?
Why did you refuse the fruit of grace, as Adam did
the tree of life?
Why did you willfully lose the unshadowed hope
of eternity?
Why did you cover your face with brazen shame?
Why did you arm your enemies against you,
repository of stupidity?
Why did you venture into the snares of death,
abandoning the way of faith?
Why did you get caught on the fishhook of deception,
you who share the body of the life giver?
But again, relying upon him, call to him,
the redeemer of those seeking refuge, renewer,
savior, life maker and life giver,
merciful, caring, lover of humanity,
ungrudging, generously compassionate,
blessed forever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Lk. 15:15.

  2 ...... S. of S. 1:7.

  3 ...... Col. 3:2.

  4 ...... Job 39:5.

  5 ...... Ps. 81:6.

  6 ...... 1 Cor. 12:12-27.

  7 ...... Gen. 1:26.

  8 ...... Gen. 3.

  9 ...... S. of S. 5:3.