In Thanksgiving week 2012, I posted “An Agnostic Grace” as a prayer suitable for use by agnostics and by nonsupernaturalists. I collected that and other agnostic prayers in “The Book of Uncommon Prayer.” (One of my favorites is “Daily Devotional for the Not-Yet.”) Today, let me add another, that stems from my growing appreciation for the importance of situational awareness:
May I be subtly aware of everything going on around me so that I may better champion the God or Gods Who May Be.
An obvious modification for situations with more than one person is the first-person plural:
May we be subtly aware of everything going on around us so that we may better champion the God or Gods Who May Be.
In addition to the mental resources required, situational awareness can be difficult because facing the truth of a situation can be something part of one’s mind wants to avoid. For me, there is an additional element of wanting to get a substitute for courage by metaphorically closing my eyes to obstacles and dangers ahead.
A key advantage of courage with one’s eyes wide open to the obstacles and dangers ahead is that one can deal with those obstacles and dangers better. But a more genuine courage is then required in order to move forward.
I also find that seeing my situation clearly intensifies for me an awareness of things that I want that I don’t have. This hints at a connection between the agnostic prayer for awareness above and Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer—especially in its full two stanzas:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
A key theme in the Serenity Prayer is that it is a tough world. It is very tough for some, but it is tough in some measure for each one of us.
What we want shows our values. Having a greater awareness of our own values can shine a light on our path. But it also shines a light on the obstacles on our path. But that is better than proceeding in darkness or with our eyes shut.