At a retreat recently, someone asked me what, if anything, I would change about the church I attend. I gave her an answer. There were specific things I named. I had forgotten Jewel’s wisdom: “We must demand not more from each other / but more from ourselves.” I had forgotten St. Francis’ beloved prayer, “grant that I may seek… to love.” It’s easier for me to focus on how I want others to act differently. It’s uncomfortable looking at my own attitude, my own behaviors.
And there are no guarantees. If I put in this extra effort, if I let go of needing others to act, or be, or say, differently, the things I named may or may not change. The people of the church may not change, but my perception will. As the focus of my intention shifts from others to myself, I will be better able to accept others as I want to be accepted – as is.
If I were asked the same question today, my answer would be thus: The thing I would change about my church is my ability to love it, to embrace with love the people – as they are. This is my new prayer.