Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lord's Prayer with Dante and Dorothy in the Snow

The preaching team at church has been doing a series on the Lord's Prayer as part of our church's prayer initiative. Last Sunday we had an extended worship night that was structured according to the Lord's Prayer. That service was a huge blessing for me.

At lunch I've been reading Dante's Divine Comedy in Dorothy Sayers translation. Today I came across this at the beginning of Canto XI of Purgatorio (p. 150 in the 1955 Penguin ed.). Dante and Virgil have entered the first circle of Purgatory and encounter the formerly prideful struggling under burdens and praying thus:

"Our Father, dwelling in the Heavens, nowise
As circumscribed, but as the things above,
Thy first effects, are dearest in Thine eyes,

Hallowed Thy name be and the Power thereof,
By every creature, as right meet it is
We praise the tender effluence of Thy love.

Let come to us, let come Thy Kingdom's peace;
If it come not, we've no power of our own
To come to it, for all our subtleties.

Like as with glad Hosannas at thy throne
Thine angels offer up their wills away,
So let men offer theirs, that Thine be done.

Our daily manna give to us this day,
Without which he that through this desert wild
Toils most to speed goes backward on his way.

As we, with all our debtors reconciled,
Forgive, do Thou forgive us, nor regard
Our merits, but upon our sins look mild.

Put not our strength, too easily ensnared
And overcome, to proof with the old foe;
But save us from him, for he tries it hard.

This prayer is not made for us - we know,
Dear Lord, that it is needless - but for those
Who still remain behind us we pray so."

Finally, I had a couple of moments of pure weather joy recently as I walked outside.
On Tuesday I came home from work around 4 in the afternoon. As I walked across the hard packed snow that's been in our lot since I don't know when, I thought about how much delight I take in a sunny 'teen degree day with snow crunching under my feet. When I came home last night around 9:30 and I walked the parking lot under the stars and Menelmacar (Orion) shining over the street I had the same feeling. Fresh fallen snow is beautiful, but there's also something about snow that's settled in and is a little dirty and cracked but firm. When it's been there for a while and paths have been tracked through it and its been cleared from the road and the sidewalks it's just a glorious, wonderful thing. I just wanted to share.

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