This school year our elder daughter enters her first year of study at Gordon College, with our younger daughter soon to follow, if it pleases God. As my colleagues and I put together this fourth annual Making the Most of College issue of Comment, I was vividly aware that we are addressing it, for the first time, also to my own children, and their friends. And so I dedicate this issue to them, and begin it with a prayer for blessing over students in 2009-2010.
Jim Cotter writes his paraphrase—or “unfolding,” as he prefers to call it—of Psalm 136 “in solidarity with research scientists; and with those who help others handle change and resolve conflicts; and in gratitude for a marvellous universe,” and ends the unfolding with these prayerful words:
As we contemplate, discern, and endure through the years, may we hold in the presence of God all that is intractable and unresolved in the life of this planet and its peoples—and in our own lives also—until the time comes when the Spirit of gratitude spreads over all things, and for all that has been, we shall in truth give our thanks, and to all that is coming to be, we shall indeed sing our Yes.
This is a prayer of “holding in the presence of God” the teachers and students, administrators and coaches, chaplains and campus ministers, boards and staff of the academic institutions of Canada and America—and in particular those of you who are part of the Comment community of writers and readers, artists and editors, funders and publishers, partners and mentors . . . and most particularly, All the diamonds in this world/That mean anything to me, my daughters:
May God the Father draw you close, with wisdom his gift to you, and wonder.
May Jesus be your comfort and your paradigm, your hearts broken like his, your faces wet with tears for this weeping world.
May the Spirit spark friendship between you and those with whom you find yourself sharing common objects of love, common sources of hope, common confessions of faith.
May you delight in the asking of big questions and the discovery of sturdy answers, may you persevere in the practice of skills, and may you flourish in the grateful cultivation of virtue.
May your journeys be safe, your feet find the way of peace, your words bring good news, and your destination be the glory of God.