“Wherever you send me
There will I find you
Wherever you lead me
There will I go
Into all nations
You will be with me wherever I go.”
-Patrick on the Water, Garrison Doles
I stumbled upon a special song today called “Patrick on the Water”. The writer, Garrison Doles, was inspired by the life of St. Patrick—born in Britain, kidnapped by raiders, and enslaved in Ireland. Years later, after escaping, he felt called by the land where he had been held captive to travel back. The song tells this story while incorporating “The Deer’s Cry” or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer attributed to St. Patrick.
What does it mean to follow God’s call wherever it may lead, “into all nations/all situations”? How can I trust that God “will be with me wherever I go”?
It is not easy to surrender, to trust, to remember that God is always with us, but it is through the example of saints, like Patrick, that we learn to call upon the “strength of heaven”, as suggested in “The Deer’s Cry” (lyrics below.)
Listening to this song made me think of Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo, who followed God’s call to Rome from Nebraska. He asks us to consider that “sometimes not even a friend can reach (our) heart…Sometimes we are just left with ourselves, left alone…these moments that can be filled with darkness and sadness can also turn into a very precious experience. The situation breaks us open to realize that our loneliness is not an accident, but the reflection of our deepest call as human beings that goes beyond what another human being can grasp or understand. We realize that our loneliness touches the dimension of God; it is a result of the fact that we are immediate to God. This is the monk’s moment.” (Fr. Mauritius Wilde—Lord, You Know Me)
God is “our constant companion”, Fr. Mauritius writes. “HE is before all things. By HIM all things consist. (Col 1:17)” He writes this prayer—Dear Lord, let me return to you, over and over again. When serious changes happen in my life, or even if nothing seems to change, you always stand. Let me stand by you. It is safe ground, peaceful, hopeful. Wherever you are, there is home.
There is wisdom in the prayer “The Deer’s Cry”. Christ is our strength and our home is wherever he is.
I arise today through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock
I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s eye to look before me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
From all who shall wish me ill
Afar and a-near
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel, merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul
Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me
I arise today.
More on St. Patrick from Jan Richardson (her late husband wrote “Patrick on the Water”).
“Patrick on the Water” is © Garrison Doles from CD “House of Prayer.”