Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Collect

Alva BPW Reunion, circa 2000I used to belong to the Business and Professional Women, from 1990 until the national organization folded its membership arm last year.

We opened or closed each meeting with a Collect, written by Mary Stewart. I still remember it, and I want to share it with some comments.

Keep us, O God, from pettiness.
Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.
We could use more large thinking, less pettiness, in our dealings.

Let us be done with fault finding
and leave off self seeking.
Neither is helpful, but we still engage in them.

May we put away all pretense
No one really believes our pretenses, anyway.

and meet each other face to face,
without self-pity and without prejudice.
We usually bring too much of both to our interactions.

May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous.
I think is a reminder to be generous in how we think of others, in how we judge them.

Let us take time for all things.
In an age when we are all too busy all the time, this seems like an order to try to do it all. But I think it's really an encouragement to focus. To take time for the things we do.

Make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.
Since you know me, you know that's not a description of me. But it's a good idea. We should all be more calm, serene even. And a bit more gentle treatment of each other would be welcome.

Teach us to put into action our better impulses,
Straightforward and unafraid.
Note that this is a call to action, not more planning and thinking. And I take "straightforward and unafraid" as my personal motto, practically. Ask my Mom.

Grant that we may realize,
It is the little things that create differences;
That in the big things of life, we are at one.
How often do we get upset about the little things? What are we really missing then?

And may we strive to touch and to know
The great common human heart of us all.
We all have love, pain, joy. When we forget that, we can do real damage.

And O Lord God, let us forget not to be kind.
We almost forgot, didn't we?

This was written in 1904, as "women working together with wide interest for large ends was a new thing under the sun, and ... perhaps they had need for special petition and mediation of their own." Mary Stewart's own words, there.

Does it seem outdated? Too sweet and mushy? Well, I'll take a little nostalgia here.

The photo is of our Alva BPW reunion, around 2000.
Back row: Past President Louise Prigmore, visitors Karen Miller and State President Lois Sharpton from Stillwater, Past President Louise Murray, Past President Jean Petermann (then a resident of Woodward), Lois Stanaway (who went on to be local president), District Director Lucinda Ray of Guymon,
Seated: Past President Becky McCray, Ola Mae Hendricks (my grandmother), Past President Roberta Petermann.
Floor: Past President Glenna Mae Hendricks (my mother), and Connie Foote (my sister).

The Women's Institute of Prince Edward Island has an excellent History of Mary Stewart Collect, and the Warren Junior Women’s League/GFWC shares The Story of Mary Stewart’s Collect (as told by Mary Stewart).

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