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Mr. Probity.

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March 24, 2004

“Prophets of a future not our own.” Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary. We’re as boggled as anyone by this. I’m really not used to my adult life containing quarter-century timespans.

Speaking of anniversaries, Jeanne D’Arc reminds us that today is the 24th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. By, as Jeanne correctly recalls, “a professional assassin acting on the orders of Roberto D’Aubuisson, a graduate of the School of the Americas.

Archbishop Romero has headed up Electrolite’s commonplace section for quite a while now. Here’s his entire prayer from which that one line is taken.

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is 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 another 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 seeds 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 effects 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 God’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. Amen.

[11:42 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on "Prophets of a future not our own.":

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2004, 11:57 PM:

Amen. And congratulations to you and Teresa. You've made a good start.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:01 AM:

Compare and contrast: "Bishop likens gay weddings to marrying your pet".

I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that somebody here is missing the point, and I don't think it's Romero.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:02 AM:

Congratulations and blessings to you both!

You and Teresa beat Marilee and I by about 9 months -- 12/29/79 in our case. Any good wedding stories? (We have an entire set ready to bring out and bore everyone silly with. Comes with the territory.)

I have loved that prayer for quite some time. Thank you so much for posting it.

Maureen Kincaid Speller ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:13 AM:

I'd like to copy those words to my own LJ sidebar, I think. Lots of things here we all need to be reminded of every day.

And congratulations to you and Teresa. I'd forgotten we share this auspicious day, though I know you did tell me a while ago.

I'm still slightly startled to realise that I really have been an adult for longer than I was a minor. How did that happen?

Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Ooh! Silver! (Or, in dog's years, two diamonds, a gold, and a wood.)

Congratulations. Now. Why don't you head back out for another lap...

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:43 AM:

Happy anniversary to you both!

And thanks for posting the full text of that prayer. I think I'm going to print it out and put it somewhere that I can read it more often.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 01:14 AM:

How lovely for you two, to be such good friends for all those years together. Congratulations seem as if they would be beside the point, but please take them all the same.

colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Congratulations to both of you! A quater of a century is quite a milestone. All the best,


BSD ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 10:21 AM:


Of course, just to make you feel old, I'll note that you were married within a quarter of my parents.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Happy Anniversary, and I love the poem. Prayer.

Randy Paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 11:18 AM:

Congratulations (albeit a day late) to you and Teresa. May you two have another fifty years together!

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Congrats. I don't know if it would be amusing or depressing or annoying for me to note that I was nine months old when you two tied the knot.

And thank you x1000 for posting that prayer. I really needed that. My faith is still hurting quite a bit, but those words go a long way toward healing things.

Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 11:29 AM:

A wonderful prayer, and congratulations.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Congratulations. Wow, 25 years. That's a couple months before I became vegetarian, even.

Kellie, all of the above. A little.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Favorite memory from a quarter-century ago:

Stately plump Bill Patterson saying, at the end of the ceremony, "If there is anyone who objects to this union ... they should have spoken up a long time ago!" At which point Tom Whitmore popped up like a jack-in-the-box and said, "I did!"

When I come out to others about my polyamory, one of the oddest things that generally happens is when I am asked how long I've been with my partners. People are often more astonished at the lengths of my relationships (twenty-two and fifteen years, respectively) than they are by the fact that I'm involved with more than one person.

Oscar Romero's prayer reminds me of nothing so much as Rabbi Tarfon's saying, recorded in the Pirkei Avot:

It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it. If you have studied much in the Torah much reward will be given you, for faithful is your employer who shall pay you the reward of your labor. And know that the reward for the righteous shall be in the time to come. 

It's a good bet that Romero had this mishna in mind as at least part of the inspiration for his prayer.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:50 PM:

"It's a good bet that Romero had this mishna in mind as at least part of the inspiration for his prayer."

Also, for that matter, the Bhagavad-Gita: "Yours is the action for its own sake. The fruits of the action are not yours."

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Xopher, I'm glad to have slightly amused you, though the "Young Rebel" in me is also happy to have slightly annoyed you. :) The slightly depressive quality of my little factoid cuts both ways. Realizing I'm barely older than someone's marriage makes me feel extremely young and ignorant, but then I remember how much I've forgotten already in my life, and I get depressed.

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 02:46 PM:

It could be worse...you could be younger than 25, like me. ;)

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 03:14 PM:

It took me far too long to hear the irony in this: "...but then I remember how much I've forgotten already in my life..."

*waves to fellow youngun* Hi, Mark.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Kellie, I bet you can think of at least some people who you know very well whose marriage you're younger than. (I'd fix that, but I'm an old commenter, and tired.)

I certainly do. I'll be attending their 50th in October.

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 04:10 PM:

Xopher, excellent point. I'll be attending my grandparents' 50th in July 2005. Which reminds me that I need to organize some sort of cutesy grandkids skit or something. (My parents made it to 22 years before the big D.)

Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 07:24 PM:

A belated happy anniversary to you both. You're four years ahead of David and me. I am confident that we will never catch up.


Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2004, 10:06 PM:

Christ, I hadn't realized it was that long. And that's only how long you've been married.

Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2004, 01:35 AM:

Congratulations on the big anniversary.

(I'm coming up on my 20th myself.)

I keep asking my conservative friends just how exactly
gay marriage is supposed to threaten my marriage,
and they never quite give me a coherent answer.

Have you figured out what they're on about?

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Congratulations, Patrick and Teresa!
Yikes, I remember emailing you when it was "just" your 20th...

...now at my fifth anniversary this May.

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Congratulations! I can't believe you got married when you were 10 years old. What activist mayor issued that license, anyway?

You are a great couple and superb bloggers.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2004, 06:56 PM:

Man, 25 years ago, I was living in Ill Manor, typing apazines on ditto masters. Or maybe I was already taking it to Kinko's (their second location). Those were the days, waiting for something to happen. Then it started happening, and it hasn't stopped.

Happy 25! (That's a wish as well as an observation...)

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Belated Mazel Tov on your silver anniversary. What a wonderful occasion...

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2004, 01:52 PM:

A belated happy anniversary to you both. You're four years ahead of David and me. I am confident that we will never catch up.

That strikes me as being a surprising failure of the imagination. Angie and I are at just under 19 years so far, but I am supremely confident that my cunning plan involving accelerating the Flatiron building to 90% of the speed of light will allow us to catch up soon enough.

PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2004, 07:55 PM:

Congrats on all that time together. I hope I'm that lucky someday.

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 12:50 PM:

If it's not gauche coming from some feller who doesn't know you - Happy Anniversary, Nielsen Haydens. Here's to many more.

Velma deSelby Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 03:00 PM: