God help me with my thoughts!
They stray from me, setting off on their wildest journeys.
When I am in church, they run off like naughty children,
quarreling, making trouble.
When I read the Bible, they fly to a distant city,
filled with beautiful women.
My thoughts can cross an ocean with a single leap;
they can fly from earth to heaven,
and back again, in a single second.
They come to me for a fleeting moment,
and then away they flee.
No chain, no locks can hold them back;
no threats of punishment can restrain them,
no hiss of a lash can frighten them.
They slip from my grasp like tails of eels;
they swoop hither and thither like swallows in flight.
Dear, chaste Christ, who can see into every heart and read every mind,
take hold of my thoughts.
Bring my thoughts back to me,
and clasp me to yourself.
Celtic prayer, c.450-c.700
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.