Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, is a favorite of mine. The title has served as sort of mantra for me over the years. But today, thinking and talking to God as I do my errands, it hit me that a better motto for my life may be: A long repentance in the same direction.
Every year around this time I pull out a journal I only use after Christmas and before the new year. I purchased it 17 years ago, when my marriage seemed to be over and I was pregnant with our second son. The cover of the cheap journal is now faded. The red poinsettia print is a dark pink. But the word “Faith” on the cover still holds.
Each year I’ve written prayers and confessed my weariness in those pages. When I read that journal at the end of every year, I’m actually embarrassed that I keep struggling with the same fears and desires. Desires that never seem fulfilled.
Tonight I opened my new copy of the Book of Common Prayer. I’m not Anglican. There’s not a bit of High Church in me. But I’m drawn to the structure of the BCP. Tonight’s reading from the evening prayer is all about repentance.
He heard me in the car. He knows my path. Every year I press on in the direction of Resurrection Day. And my daily progress towards that day is not so much a straight path of obedience, but a detoured, dizzying trail of turnings. Turnings away from bitterness towards tenderheartedness. Getting up and turning from head down faithlessness, towards my Father, believing He is good. No matter what.
“I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. “Luke 15:18-20 Christian Standard Bible