Sometimes I have trouble sleeping. This has happened intermittently throughout my life since grade school. The reasons for it have changed throughout the years of course. For example, over the past month the reasons have included roosters on the roof that like to start crowing at 3 AM or the babies who start crying at 4 or a trip to the latrine at 5 that turns into wiping out in the mud, being chased by monster moths, forgetting the TP and wiping out in the mud…again. Needless to say, I did not have these problems back in the day.

More often than not though, my reasons for not sleeping very well have less to do with what’s going on around me and more to do with what’s going on inside…as in my brain will not shut off! God forbid I have an engaging conversation an hour before I go to bed because it’s guaranteed to be loss. I’ve thought a lot lately about the girls I’m working with and what I might be able to do to help their situations. There is only a month until some of them start leaving the center to go out on their own. What if they’re not ready? I am trying to teach them things that I think are important, but I wonder how much they’re really hearing sometimes. I’m trying to get them loans to help with their businesses, but I worry that things just aren’t happening quick enough.

Sometimes I just think about silly things like going to Wisconsin to eat cheese, where I’m going to live and work after this year, how the crucifix on the wall at my parent’s house should really be moved to a different wall so that it can be seen better (the door almost always covers it up) and how much it would approximately cost to send my 4 future hypothetical children to Catholic school (about $180,000 for K-12 by the way)…the list goes on. Other times I get business ideas, “revelations” and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and start working. There is so much I want to do and not enough time to do it all! It’s exciting…and a little exhausting.

When I told the other interns about my restless mind, their solution seemed so simple. “Pray about it.” So I found this prayer that really spoke to me by Archbishop Oscar Romero. Romero spoke out against poverty, social justice and the abuse of human rights in El Salvador. Unfortunately, Romero did not live to see the results of his work on earth as he was assassinated in 1980, however those who were inspired by him went on to bring peace to the country and his teachings continue to live on. While the prayer may sound a little pessimistic at first, as you continue reading it you realize that it is really a message of great hope and comfort for us. It reminds us that we cannot do it all, nor are we supposed to. Who knows, maybe we will plant the seeds that will one day grow, even if we never actually see them grow ourselves. We have to remember that we are the workers, not the master builders.

Romero’s Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
That the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seed that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
Knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
In realizing that. This enables us to do something,
And to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
But it is a beginning, a step along the way,
An opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
Between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

–Archbishop Oscar Romero

I hope that we can all sleep easier knowing that God’s got our backs! I know I will.