Some of us may remember when the musical Godspell first came out (1971). Some of us may have acted in it (or seen it performed) in high school or college. Some of us may have had (or still have) an old vinyl LP of the soundtrack. But I would imagine few of us would remember that the song Day by Day spent 14 weeks on the Billboard “Hot 100”, peaking at #13 in July of 1972. AND, I would imagine that even fewer of us would remember that Hymn 429 in the Episcopal Church’s 1940 Hymnal has the same text as that Stephen Schwartz hit — a text written by Richard of Chichester in the thirteenth century. (The music in the 1940 Hymnal is, however, decidedly different!) For those who are not part of any of those sub-populations mentioned above, the text of the hymn/song is:
Day by day,
Dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.
(By the way, the film version of Day by Day can be seen here: https://youtu.be/ekoHxB4idmg.)
As I entered Lent this year, my spiritual director suggested that I spend some time reflecting on how I might know Jesus more fully. His suggestion was consistent with a lot of our conversations over the years, and he was usually right on target! So I said “Sure!” And, then, he gave me a copy of an article he had written for a Jesuit publication (yes, my spiritual director is a Jesuit!) entitled, “Personal Encounters with Jesus Christ”. He certainly knows how to appeal to my scholarly predisposition! As he handed the article to me, he told me that the (Jesuit) editor of the journal told him, “This sure sounds Protestant!” That comment intrigued me even more.
So I read the article . . . and, yes, it did feel pretty “Protestant” —very little in it about sacraments, for example. It suggests that Christians would do well to think of a relationship with Jesus much like that with a good friend. AND, to have easy, little, conversations with Jesus from time to time throughout the day . . . about things significant and insignificant. That practice is certainly a bit outside my prayer life comfort zone. But I’ve been giving it a try.
And, as I’ve been struggling to remember to have “a little talk with Jesus” (just to toss in another song title), I recalled the Godspell song. And that song helped me put in perspective the advice of my spiritual director. Those little conversations throughout the day are clearly helpful in “seeing Jesus more clearly”. That in turn, I would hope would help me love him more dearly, and, of course, follow him more nearly.
And, isn’t that what Lent is about? It’s a journey into the wilderness, but not a solo journey. There’s a Companion who’s been there with whom to have a conversation.
Day by day.