The other day I saw this prayer at Southwark Cathedral, by the tomb of Bishop Lancelot Andrews: "Lord, be thou within us to strengthen us; without us to keep us; above us to protect us; beneath us to uphold us; before us to direct us; behind us to keep us from straying; round about us to defend us."
I walked through busy markets and across crowded bridges today, September 11th, and thought about that day ten years ago when we were afraid to go anywhere. I was fourteen and didn't really know anything about life or about how cruel people could be. I didn't really know very much about God either. I am twenty-four now. There are still cruel people, very wicked people, in fact. I know that on this side of Christ's return there always will be. But there are also a lot of people with the grace of God spilling from their hearts and out into their work, their play, their families, their friendships. They drive city buses without fear, the seek justice in the halls of power, they say "I love you" when they hang up the phone. (We're all hopefully a little bit better at saying "I love you" than we were ten years ago.) They can do all these things because they know that a good God is within, without, above, beneath, before, behind, and round about us. They know the end of the story, and so the painful final chapters do not bring them to despair.