Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Bind Unto Myself Today

I remember that shortly after my father died, a very strange thing happened.  I started hearing hymns in my head.  My brain became a virtual jukebox of the Episcopal Hymnal, and they played all the time. 

The first hymn to spin around and around was the one known as The Breastplate of St. Patrick, "I Bind Unto Myself Today." 

I thought the reason I was hearing this hymn was my dad.  I have memories of being next to him in church as we marshaled through this piece of music.  However, I am realizing that there may have been another reason this particular hymn became the first one to be put on "repeat" in my head.  I looked at the poetry:

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever, 
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation; 
his baptism in the Jordan River; 
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way; 
his coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today...

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me, 
Christ to comfort and restore me
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger, 
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

As I look at these lyrics, and reflect upon my journey with God,  I think this was not just about a church song I associated with my dad.  I think it was preparing the stage for what was to come. 

I have, in many ways, taken up the strong Name of the Trinity as part of who I am and how I live in the world.  I find myself engaged in theological reflection as I sit at traffic lights, or stand in line at the grocery store.  A slogan or a bumper sticker gets my brain clicking away at how this bit of the world we live in can reflect something of the Divine... if I free my mind enough to go in that direction.  Imagine: sitting in a coffee shop and hearing the 80's pop icon, Prince, singing, "I Will Die 4 U" and finding your mind going to an image of Christ!  I take note, give pause, and then continue sipping my red hibiscus iced tea wondering, "Am I the only one hearing this song in this way?"

Living in this way has its challenges.  It certainly isn't the topic of small talk or shooting the breeze at the water cooler.  Some might say it should be, but then how many of those "some" work in environments with people who are non-Christian?  Not everybody is going to want to talk about God, especially when they're only on their first cup of coffee.  And there are those who don't want to have the discussion at all.  Period. 

But in my experience, I have found that the more I can find a grounding in God daily in my own life, the more motivated I am to reflect God in my interactions with other people and the planet we share.  If I move from that God-centered place, while outwardly wearing my mustard seed, crucifix, pride triangle, monkey necklace charms, the more I am communicating through my actions what it means to be bound to Christ.  It goes back to those words of +Gene Robinson, "God doesn't need cheerleaders; God needs disciples and followers."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Maybe between the corned beef and cabbage, and the Irish coffees, we can identify the ways in which we have bound ourselves to the Trinity, and how it motivates our actions.

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