Sometimes in my life, a phrase or image or prayer is echoed around me in unexpected ways. And sometimes, like in this prayer of St. Teresa, it is like manna for the journey. I was first introduced to this prayer through the beautiful Taize service held each month in our community.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.
The prayer was written in the 16th century. St. Teresa of Avila was a celebrated Carmelite nun and mystic, and it is called “St. Teresa’s Bookmark” because according to tradition, she carried it around in her prayer book, where it was found after her death in 1582. St. Teresa experienced many hardships during her life, including illnesses and struggles both in her prayer life and in establishing reform in the church.
I heard the prayer again, last week, as our rector, Mike Kinman, shared a devotional practice that carries him through political upheaval and change. On Sunday, there it was again, as our choir sang, and yet again, as Zelda gave her blessing. The line in St. Teresa’s Bookmark that “all things are passing” is both challenging and comforting. After all, neither the good things we experience in this world, nor the bad ones, last forever. Yet God never changes in all the ways that we need God to be rock steady—God’s absolutely faithful, loving and unconditional presence with us; God’s creative power to make new life and meaning out of loss and death; God’s promise that love, peace, and justice will prevail.
St. Teresa’s Bookmark reminds me that God is our center and our sure foundation from which nothing can shake us.
“Only in God is my being quiet,
For from God is my hope.
Only God is my rock and my rescue;
Pour out your hearts to God for God is our shelter.”
Today’s Daily Lenten Meditation is by Sally Howard, Associate for Pastoral Care and Director of Healing & Health. Watch for daily postings from All Saints Church as we take the forty day journey to Easter together.