Our Father and Mother
Another in the occasional series of different versions of the Lord's Prayer
Simon Bailey (16 June 1955 – 27 November 1995) was a British Anglican priest and writer. He came to national attention when a television documentary was made of how he continued his work in the parish after telling his Bishop and parishioners he had AIDS - the first British priest to do so.
Simon wrote -
“Before I was instituted as Rector in Dinnington, I made a retreat which included a visit to what, for me, is one of the holiest places in England: the shrine of St Cuthbert, in Durham Cathedral. As I sat there in the silence I heard, felt, a message that there was nothing to be afraid of. It was a deep reassurance.
I applied it then, of course, to the Institution and my first living. It did apply to that. But when I got home I found waiting for me the letter which urged me to contact the hospital which led to my positive diagnosis. And now, of course, I hear the message in this situation, too. “There is nothing to be afraid of.”
“I don’t know where courage comes from; I don’t know why some seem to have it (like Dennis Potter, in his extraordinary last interview, who said he hadn’t had a moment’s terror in his illness) and others don’t. It is what I pray for. The Breton Fisherman’s Prayer has become one of my favourites, not least for its brevity:
“Help me God, the sea is so vast, my boat is so small.”
I feel like a boat in dock, being built, repaired. The tide is slowly coming in. . . One by one the props are knocked away, sometimes more than one at once. . . I rock, uncertain, unsteady. It feels destructive, deeply threatening, unstable, unbalancing. . . But the tide is swirling in and I shall discover that the props have to go if I’m going into that great swelling ocean in my little boat, into the ocean that I’m made for. . .
The people of Dinnington were marvellous. It was a place where a gay man with AIDS would definitely not have been welcomed, but the news of his sexuality and condition came to them after they had taken Simon the priest to their hearts, and they cared for him to the end.
His deep spirituality helped him through his condition and grew out of it. Here is his version of the Lord’s Prayer……
Father and Mother of us all,
You are love through and through,
and we bless You.
Let Your new world come;
Let what You long for be always done,
in everyone, everywhere – and in us.
Be near enough to reach our need every day.
Be gentle enough to forgive us
the hurt we have done to You,
As we are gentle and forgive in our turn.
Never let us fall,
But draw us away from evil and the dark.
For we know the world that is coming
and splendour. Amen.