Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
Lately, the Hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has been an essential part of my morning prayers. Specifically the Ginny Owens version, her voice is haunting and slows the busy rhythm of my frantic morning thoughts.
This song has always been more than just tradition to me, because with it I ask God into my extremely human senses. I invite him into my eyeballs and eardrums, the very lenses with which I process life.
I’ve always had an affinity for old hymns but not all of them resonate with me (bringing in the sheaves?) Some use farm or kingdom language that I don’t connect with. Yet, there are some hymns in which I feel the very weight of our story, of the Church and all the flawed souls who’ve gone before.
Be Thou My Vision is one of those… in fact it’s my absolute favorite hymn. I inherited this from my Daddy, we played it at his funeral, it’s a part of my story now.
It came on as I was running yesterday, and my breath caught in my throat as my feet pounded the earth beneath me.
I became instantly connected to the soil and all the life that it has sustained, to the history of the people of God which extends infinitely in front of and behind me.
There I was, praying for God to be my vision, my everything, and behind me stand so many saints who held a deep need for this exact same prayer.
The translation of this prayer has changed since it’s originally Irish penning in the 6th century, but our daily need for God, our forgetfulness, our prone-to-wander-ness remains the same.
These words, this prayer has sustained through revolution, loss, darkness, light, life and death. Surely it can see me through the anxiety of may day to day, through my need for new sippy cups and a few moments peace to beg for a few more ounces of patience.
In our modern church-speak we spend a lot of time focusing on inviting Jesus into our hearts. Yet, perhaps they were onto something back in the 6th century, perhaps we need to spend more time inviting him into our very senses, the basic tools with which we intake life.
Perhaps we need to be pray that Christ comes into our eyes and ears, that he translates what we smell and touch into something more heavenly and eternal. That in our senses we feel the weight of eternity, all that matters and all that will pass away.
Be Thou My Vision God, be the very lens in which I intake the world and all those who dwell therein.
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