Last week, I stumbled upon an opportunity to join a Zoom book club in South Africa in which famed Yale theologian, Miroslav Volf, agreed to participate. I’ve admired Volf for years, beginning with this interview in which he expounds upon some of his ideas about religion, genocide, and violence. I ultimately featured many of his insights in this piece I wrote about Christianity and the Holocaust.
To my surprise and delight, there were only a handful of people in the zoom call, which gave me stunning access to Volf. My daughter joined me over lunch, and we ended up discussing themes raised related to Christianity, genocide, racism, and social justice.
What most struck me during this discussion was a comment Volf made, in passing, which I paraphrase to the best of my memory here: “Every time I post to social media, I pray: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.‘” The thought was that, if the message to be sent didn’t line up with this prayer, Volf would change it, but if it did line up, the prayer was for the message to have this intended effect.
I can’t say why, but this has stuck with me. I find myself thinking about this before I send a text, e-mail, or even returning a phone call. Many times, I notice myself just not sending what would have been a message of division, gossip, or judgement, and I’ve become more aware of how often this occurs.
To remind myself of this, I purchased a copy of the prayer from which Volf’s prayer comes: the prayer of St. Francis. Its visible reminder on my desk, I hope, will continue to ground me in this intention of peace.