I’ll WALK WITH GOD: Amazing Graces, Amusing Phrases In Awkward Places

WORD Becoming, Spiritual Reflections by Fr Roderick Salazar SVD (Philippines)

This is an Amazing Grace of a song:
solemn, with fitting rhyme and meter,
a pledge and a prayer and a life’s goal.

“I’ll walk with God, from this day on
His helping hand I’ll lean upon
This is my prayer, my humble plea:
May the Lord be ever with me.

There is no death though eyes grow dim,
There is no fear when I’m near to Him
I’ll lean on Him forever
And He’ll forsake me never

He will not fail me as long as my faith is strong
Whatever road I may walk along
I’ll walk with God, I’ll take His hand,
I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand
I’ll pray to Him, each day to Him
And He’ll hear the words that I say
His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I’ll never walk alone
While I WALK WITH GOD”.

The music is by Nicolas Brodzsky
with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
for the 1954 movie, The Student Prince.
Tenor Mario Lanza had first been chosen
to play the title role, but he had grown
too big to appear “princely”, so he just
dubs the song for Edmond Purdom
in a scene where the Student Prince
stands before the coffin of his grandfather,
the King of Karlsburg.

Perhaps it is this scenario which has made
people associate this song with funerals.
When was the last time you heard it?
Probably in a funeral procession where
the departed person (God rest the soul)
is no longer walking, and can not walk
with God any more.

Beyond the original movie scene, this is what
I find awkward. The song is a great prayer.
It should be sung and, we should sing it if we want
while we are alive, while we can still walk by God’s grace.

My own wish is that this lovely song be reclaimed
from the dead and placed, prayed, and sung by us
in our everyday living. Walk with God. Talk with God.
NOW. While we live. Where we are. NOW.

There is another phrase that I also find a bit awkward
though I understand when it is expressed.

Some of us, by the grace of God, are able to take
a grand holiday. A day or two, maybe even a week.
We travel by special car or train or plane to a grand
beach resort. We take fancy dinners,
our hotel rooms are clean and fragrant,
the beds and beddings fit for royalty.
Oh we enjoy the beach, the music, the dancing,
the new friends we meet, the relaxed atmosphere.
And then the holiday ends.
Armed with videos and pictures, we go home,
a bit or a lot with regret.

And when we have unpacked and settled down,
what do we say and proclaim to friends in Facebook:
Sigh. Back to REALITY.

Huh? Those lovely picnic moments were NOT REAL?
Were the hotels we lived in just castles in the AIR?
Why do we look at our ordinary everyday lives as
The ONLY REALITY?

The vacation holiday we had we may have saved for
or may have been gifted to us. But it was REAL
It did not last forever, of course,
But it was not meant to be. It was a break, a respite.
But it was REAL. It was God’s AMAZING GRACE, too.

This is my beef. That because we struggle from day to day
and have little comforts, we imprison ourselves into THAT –
REALITY and fail to appreciate the REALITY of
the in-between GRACES in our lives.
Our ordinary day-to-day lives are AMAZING GRACE as well.
If we just paused enough and thought of it.

Another observation.
(Oh the old man has many complaints? Do let him be)

Some of us may take pride that the Philippines has the longest
Christmas season. Radio stations compete in airing
the first Christmas carol when the –BER months come.
And joining the air-waves, we think it is cute that in September
we are the first to greet somebody a “Merry Christmas”.
Thanks, but no thanks.

And because we are friends ( I hope we are, or still are. )
Please let me be forthright in saying that it is not right
to be singing Christmas carols in September.
No offense meant to anybody.
But we need to respect the seasons.
You want Christmas everyday?
We cannot have it. Should not.
You want to celebrate your birthday everyday?
How old would you then become?

The Catholic Church has a Liturgical Cycle.
It has its Ordinary Time of the Year,
But within it are the Solemnities and Feasts.
EASTER, the Resurrection of Jesus is preceded by LENT.
CHRISTMAS, the birth of Jesus, has ADVENT before it.

We are still in the Ordinary Time of the Year.
It will end with the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King.
Before that, let us not try to be cute and say Merry Christmas.

Jesus, God who became Man respected the seasons.
He did not just drop from the sky, fully grown.
He went through what every human being does.
Being in the womb of Mother Mary for nine months,
being brought into the world at what we now celebrate
as Christmas, growing up to be a boy old enough or
young enough to be lost for three days, growing up
to be a man who experienced hunger and thirst,
who grew tired, who slept and woke up, who suffered
and died. He would rise again because He is God
but stays on with us, for the same reason – because
He is God. And He knocks at our door and waits,
till we open. He will not barge in. Maybe we are asleep.
He will wait till we awaken. Maybe He will blow a breath
to stir us, or say EHEM, or shake us to our roots by
this or that event. But as He respects the seasons,
He respects us. He respects our time.

At heart, this is what I mean and mean to lead to
when I say we need to learn to see the AMAZING GRACES
in us and around us, all the time, everywhere.

But we also need to look at the AMUSING PHRASES
we utter as we fail to appreciate His Presence in our lives,
and the AWKWARD PLACES we put Him and ourselves
because of our indifference and our forgetfulness,
because we do not regularly PAUSE for quiet calm
to pray and meditate and see things in perspective.
We need to know when and how to celebrate appropriately.

We remember the song inspired by Ecclesiastes:
“To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant,
A time to reap, a time to kill, a time to heal,
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
A time to build up, a time to break down,
A time to dance, a time to mourn,
a time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together….”

Today, I pledge to myself that I will acknowledge
with deep THANKS this AMAZING GRACE Of LIFE
that God has given me. NOW.
I pledge to look around
with love and gratitude at everyone and everything
around me now, asking the Holy Spirit to prompt me
what to think or do or say.

“I’ll walk with God, I’ll take His hand
I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand
I’ll pray to Him, each day to Him
And He’ll hear the words that I say
His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I’ll never walk alone
While I WALK WITH GOD….”

NOW. Where I am. Where I live. NOW.

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