Kent Nerburn's Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, immerses us in the spirit of one of the most universally inspiring figures in history: St. Francis of Assisi. The Prayer of St. Francis boldly but gently challenges us to resist the forces of evil and negativity with the spirit of goodwill and generosity. And Nerburn shows, in his wonderfully personal and humble way, how we each can live out the prayer's prescription for living in our everyday and less-than-saintly lives.
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love...Where there is injury, let me sow pardon..." Expanding upon each line of the St. Francis Prayer, Nerburn shares touching, inspiring stories from his own experience and that of others and reveals how each of us can make a difference for good in ordinary ways without being heroes or saints. Struggling to help a young son comfort his best friend when his mother dies, moved by the courage of war enemies who reconcile, being wrenched out of self-absorbed depression by responding to someone else's tragedy, taking a spirited old lady on a farewell taxi ride through her town-these are the kinds of everyday moments in which Nerburn finds we can live out the spirit of St. Francis.
By incorporating the power and grace of these few lines of practical idealism into our thoughts and deeds, we can begin to ease our own suffering-and the suffering of those with whom we share our lives. And, remarkably, find a way to true peace and happiness by tapping into our basic human goodness. As we open our hearts and embrace his words, St. Francis "touches our deepest humanity and ignites the spark of our divinity."
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love,
Where there is injury let me sow pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
And where there is sadness, joy...
In this beautifully written book, Kent Nerburn leads us into the heart of the St. Francis Prayer and line by line demonstrates how St. Francis's words can resonate in our lives today.
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The monastic tradition of lectio divina--holy reading--is a discipline of extremely slow, phrase-by-phrase, meditative reading of scripture. Its desired effect is to plumb the Bible's depths in such a way that scripture's individual words and phrases come to permeate the reader's whole life. In Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis, Kent Nerburn reads the Prayer of Saint Francis in a manner much like lectio, and the rewards of this strategy are rich. The prayer ("Where there is hatred let me sow love ...") is a familiar one, but Nerburn's reflections on its phrases--meandering through stories of his summer jobs as a teenager, his lonely expatriate days in Germany, his long walks on the beaches of Mexico--make the old prayer new again. Nerburn has lived this prayer, and the quiet example of this book will help many readers to do so as well. He unwittingly describes the strength and power of his own project while reflecting on a phrase from the prayer's final stanza, "For it is in giving that we receive." Nerburn writes, "Our spirits are nourished by giving, just as our bodies are nourished by food. This is not mystical; it is not high-minded. It is a simple truth about the way that the energy of life flows back and forth between people when a moment of giving takes place." --Michael Joseph GrossAbout the Author:
Kent Nerburn has been widely praised as one of the few writers who can respectfully bridge the gap between native and nonnative cultures. His book Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder won the 1995 Minnesota Book Award.
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