Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day by Day

This familiar song from the musical “Godspell” uses a great phrase:

Day by day, 
Day by day, 
Oh dear Lord,
Three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly, 
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, 
Day by day.

The phrase has a pleasing rhythm when you say it out loud, “day by day, day by day, day by day”; it’s calming, like a rocking chair’s back and forth motion. 

Three things about a day-by-day view of life attract me and give me hope. 
First, there is the rocking chair calm, the comfort from routine, the peace that comes from repeated ritual, the ease that emerges from disciplined practices. Personal wholeness sprouts, grows and blooms very gradually. A deepening spiritual life is lived bit by bit.

Secondly, we can live our individual lives as the unique free agents we are and yet maintain life-giving connection with each other and with God as co-workers and companions day by day. The idea shows up long before "Godspell" in the bible book called The Acts of the Apostles, a history of the first Christians. There, Acts 2: 46-47 reads that “day by day” the Jesus-followers got together, to eat and talk and pray, while at the same time “day by day”, the God they knew through Jesus made surprising things happen. 
As the new United Church creed states “We are not alone; we live in God’s world”. God, too, is active within human life day by day. 
Sometimes it appears that the Spirit sweeps into global history as with the fall of the Berlin wall or the end of South African apartheid or recently during Arab Spring. 
More frequently God’s active presence plays out for each of us in varied and personal ways, intimate moments that we can sometimes share, if not fully explain. History offers thousands of specific examples, first-hand testimonies about personal interactions with the Divine One throughout the centuries from Abraham to Desmond Tutu.

Thirdly, our phrase describes the only way life can be lived, much as we regret or long for the past, and worry about the future. Giving up our delusion of control can bring exhilarating freedom for making the most of this one day, today. Day by day we make our choices and day by day, like the crazy woman who lives inside my GPS, we have another chance for “recalculating”.

Here's the original source for the "Godspell" lyrics:
Richard of Chichester, 13th century: 

Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.