This is an actual image of one of the four panels of the words of Thomas Jefferson emblazoned upon the walls of perhaps America’s most sacred shrine, the Jefferson Memorial.
The image was taken in October 2007 on my first pilgrimage to pray for our country’s transformation.
As I offer my thoughts, I invite you to observe this Fourth of July with an interior observance of the heart, as I do, year-after-year. Take time to make these words, of the Declaration of Independence, your own.
Those of you who are young people, realize that these words conceived, founded and established our country.
What existed only in the minds and hearts of our founding fathers and mothers became the United States of America.
But, we have wandered far way from this vision. We fail to realize that we must constantly re-birth America — for good or for ill.
It is my sense that at this critical point of American history that we — each and every American — ought to
re-visit that moment of our founding.
Imagine what it was like.
Imagine their vision of what did not yet exist in the external world.
Imagine the courage they had.
Next to the Word of God, there are no words that are more sacred for me than these.
They are sacred because they reflected divine reality.
God blessed these words of Thomas Jefferson. And our country was born on the Fourth of July 1776.
When I lived in Washington in the summer of 1979 when I was 36 years old,
I would often go and sit in the rotunda of this sacred shrine
and ponder anew the vision of these sacred words.
I’d like to share with you what was going on in my head and my heart 36 years ago
They are faith-based thoughts. I don’t want to impose them on you.
I just share them because they led me to a very positive view of our country and our world,
a view that resists the hatred and violence, the self-indulgence of our comatose society.
As you ponder my thoughts, ask yourself what vision of America, what vision of the world and our future do you yourself have?
What do you want for you, for your children, for our country, for our world, for our planet?
I believe your Holy Spirit inspired these words:
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
THAT ALL [PEOPLE] ARE CREATED EQUAL
AND ARE ENDOWED WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS.
AMONG THESE ARE THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
As a Christian among other God-fearing women and men,
I address You and love You as my Father.
You are my Father.
But this means that You are not just my Father, but the Father of all those you have created.
You care about every person on this planet who has ever lived or who ever will.
Therefore, we are all equal in Your sight. We are all Persons.
You conceived and created each human being with a unique identity, a body and soul, in Your mind and heart from the very beginning and you sustain each one of us today and for all eternity.
I have come to recognize that ALL of us are in Your family, Father.
And that makes us but sisters and brothers.
Help me to embrace all of Your children on this planet in my heart.
Help me to desire for every one what you have so generously provided for me –
a little place to call home,
simple food on my table,
a decent education
and decent health care.
Help us, Father, to recognize and support
the right of every human person to life, liberty and the pursuit of other people’s happiness as well as our own.
Help us not to be only concerned about our own needs, our own family’s needs,
but to realize that we are all one family.
Yet we are torn apart by hatred and violence; brother still kills his brother.
Help us export love not hate, peace and development for all people, not war and destruction.
This is my constant prayer, heavenly Father, for the world in which I live.
I pray that you would allow us the grace to be able to help bring that about,
not only for the people of America but for the whole world.
To you, heavenly Father ~ Father of my Redeemer and elder brother Jesus ~
all honor and praise and thanksgiving now and forever.
This, dear friends, is my constant prayer for the world in which we live,
the world I wish to be a part of and help to bring into reality.
It has ever been such since my lazy summer of ’79 in Washington and always will be.
I don’t expect you to use my words as you pray.
I just invite you to make your own prayer.
Make this Fourth of July a re-dedication to our ideals in this difficult election year.
We need God in our world today.
But we too often rely on ourselves and not on God. Capitalism, by definition, creates that illusion.
I urge you to re-birth the vision of our founding fathers and mothers in your own heart this Fourth of July 2015.
We need to renew that vision, that commitment every year ~ every day,
from the mightiest to the lowest of our land.
Every year I warn us, if we don’t constantly attend to our renewal,
we will lose what we have and are. Great civilizations before us have collapsed because of their complacency.
Nevertheless, it is my sense that God will transform us if we pray and bind together.
If we just co-operate with the process.
Let us be at prayer and reflection, this Fourth of July in the midst of our celebration and fun.
Ask God for guidance. Ask forgiveness for taking all of this for granted.
We need God to bring us through these critical times.
And now, before you go, here’s a powerful song with historical images to inspire your reflection. Click here.
Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. Enjoy your celebration for it’s still a beautiful land.
I have a very sensitive soul. That’s part of the vocation I offer to the world in which I live. It’s the gift of my manic depressive experience; I alternately soar to the heights and fall into the depths. I suffer with and for the whole world in my soul, not unlike Jesus in the agony in the garden. . That is the calling, the vocation, of a contemplative and I am happy to fulfill that role because we contemplatives do our part to hold the world together.
I was awakened before 3 AM to be in deep prayer for the sake of our country, experiencing much sadness, profound suffering and anguish in my soul over the disrespect shown to the President yesterday. It symbolizes for me a very important concern that I invite you to think about.
This morning, something was causing me anguish and it took a while to figure out what it was. And worried too. When the President of the United States is not treated with respect by our own citizens, I am worried, indeed! It dawned on me that we’re in deeper trouble than I realized.
When parents teach their children not to respect duly constituted authority, in this case, the authority of the President of the United States we are demeaning all authority. I was taught that, though we may not like or always agree with those in authority, that authority is due respect and honor. The early Christians were taught to respect and pray for the Emperor. My concern is that if we do not, anarchy might not be far behind.
Not wanting one’s children to listen to the President is ridiculous! Every TV show, every commercial, every movie is feeding our children with sex and violence!
I have come to realize that many of our young people today are distrustful of authority, including the Church. Who is to be believed? Who trusted?
Nevertheless, we have to stop blaming others and take responsibility for our own failures and sins. there’s plenty of that to go around, Republicans or Democrats, Christians or atheists. That has been my constant message for two years now. I have been pleading / cajoling / imploring anyone who would listen that we need to enter personal transformation for the sake of transformation of our county.
The crisis our country is in right now is far deeper than just economic. We are struggling to regain the soul of America and we may not make it. Our country is far from what we were and need to be. This is not the America I love. But have pledged to do my part to help wake us up before it’s too late. That’s my message. And I’ve been correct about a lot of this over the past two years.
This was the fruit of my anguished prayer. That was before 4 AM. And then I fell into a deep sleep and let God do his work. But my soul brightened up after sunrise. I realized that is still a beautiful world. I had a beautiful swim this morning. I thank God for the little very quiet corner of America I love. When Shivvy and I turned the corner of our condo on our walk toward the west, we were greeted by a luminous surprise that startled me! A perfect double rainbow. Perhaps that was an answer to my prayer.
My point, dear readers: We have to embrace the Both / And in our lives. Be present to — embrace – it all. There is no other way. If we avoid our dark side, our own or our country’s, if we refuse to do our soul work, it will do us in. Our very survival is at stake. Let’s reject any participation in negative thinking and hostile rhetoric or doing and embrace the positive. The President is owed our cooperation by right of his office. Without that, we have nothing.
Let’s bind together as a nation in love and brotherhood. If we do not, I doubt that we will make it.
help us please, please to bind together,
listen to each other,
respect each other
and work together for the good of all.
We praise you for all that is good today.
priest / writer
And by the way, I am in prayer with my Islamic brothers and sisters as they embrace this month dedicated to repentance and renewal, the month of Ramadan. For many Muslims, they take very seriously the need to take stock of and repent of their sins.