A Prayer by Michael Quoist (a French cleric)
I have fallen, Lord, once more. I can’t go on and I’ll never succeed. I’m ashamed and I don’t dare look at you. And yet I’ve struggled Lord, for I knew you were right near me bending over me, watching. But temptation blew in like a hurricane and, instead of looking at you, I turned my head away and stepped aside while you stood silent and sorrowful, like the squirmed fiance who sees his loved one carried off by his rival.
When the wind had died down as suddenly as it had arisen, when the lightening ceased after proudly streaking the darkness, all of a sudden I found myself alone, ashamed, disgusted with my sin in my hands. This sin that I selected, as a customer selects his purchase. This sin that I paid for but cannot return, for the store keeper is no longer there. This tasteless sin, this odious sin, this sin that now sickens me, which I once wanted, but I want no more. That I imagined, sought, played with, fondled for a long time, that I finally embraced by passing you.
My arms outstretched, my eyes and heart irresistibly drawn, this sin that I’ve grasped and consumed with a gluttony. It’s mine now, Lord, but it possesses me as a spider web holds captive the fly. It’s mine and sticks to me. It flows in my veins and fills my heart. It has slipped in everywhere, as darkness slips into the forest at dusk and fills all the patches of light. Lord, I can’t seem to get rid of it. I run from it like the master of an unwanted and mangy dog. But it catches up with me and rubs joyfully against my legs. Everyone must notice it. I’m so ashamed that I feel like crawling to avoid being seen. I’m ashamed of being seen by my friends, Lord. I’m ashamed of being seen by you, for you loved me and I forgot you. I forgot you because I was thinking only of myself, and one can’t think of several persons at once; one must choose and I chose.
And now, Lord, your voice, your look, and your love hurt me. They weigh me down more than my sin. Lord, please don’t look at me like that, I’m naked and dirty, down and shattered with no strength left, and I dare not make any more promises. I can only stand bowed before you, Lord.
Come on, son, look up. Isn’t it mainly your vanity that has ruined it? If you loved me you would grieve, but you would trust. Do you think there’s a limit to God’s love? Do you think for a moment I have stopped loving you? But you still rely on yourself, son, you must rely on me. Ask my pardon and get up quickly. You see, it’s not falling that is the worst, but staying on the ground.