This past week I’ve felt myself the beneficiary of a prayer offered by and with so many of my friends and companions in our evening or night prayers. It goes,”Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake (Book of Common Prayer, p. 71 and elsewhere)
“Shield the joyous” – in this week when so many suffered from severe storms and the ongoing sickness pervading our country, my family and I were at our favorite beach destination on the Outer Banks, and it was a week of sinking into the beauty of nature, the soothing and cleansing sounds of waves on the beach, the joy, the sheer joy, of having the family together again after a far too long separation because of pandemic and travel limitations. For a week, we were able to sink into the joy of being together, whole and well, in a lovely place, and simply in the “now.”
Never to deny the other parts of the prayer, which we offer wholeheartedly : but it is also true that at any time of great suffering, there are some people experiencing the sheer grace of life, and that too is “for love’s sake”. So we pray, “shield the joyous.” That prayer has come alive for me this week, as vividly as prayers of healing and compassion at other times. It is good to remember that sometimes the joyous are shielded, and able, simply, to revel in what is good, in quiet gratitude and joy.
“Shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen”