Grateful for this posting, as right now – I don’t know what to say. Thank you, David.
They know, I thought,
like the birds of Iraq before shock and awe
on the first day of spring.
It was said that the sparrows and songbirds stopped singing,
their silence heralding the dropping of bombs.
~ Patti Smith, Her Name Was Sandy. M Train
My heart breaks as I watch whole countries crumble in the wake of hatred, unimaginable violence and destruction. I do not understand and feel small as I try to think about solutions.
Cradling loaves of bread, this man weeps. Tears that could be for all that has been lost or tears that could be gratitude for the bread that he holds. Bread he may be unable to provide as before – before his world became the battleground of dangerous egos and heartless acts. In this picture we can only see a small bit of what his loss may include. A bombed out building – was it home, his children’s school, the hospital which had been caring for his loved ones? Whatever this building had been, its shelter is only a memory now.
And so we meet a balance of opposites – ruins and treasure. Unable to hold back the grief rising from his heart, this man walks ahead with food for the journey. He carries a treasure – simple yet basic. The ruins surrounding him are overwhelming. Captured in this picture is the image of what was and movement toward what will be.
I have always believed that phoenixes rise from ashes, whatever those ashes may be. Believing this requires that I, too, must hold a balance of opposites. It is impossible to reach out to thousands of people displaced and homeless. When a scene such as this refugee camp is presented in the news, I am reminded of a quote from Mother Teresa – “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Today I toss my first stone across the waters through prayer. With this man’s picture before me, I offer prayers for all people displaced by war as they search for peace, safety and a place to call home .
A Prayer for the Victims of the Syrian Conflict
We pray for those damaged by the fighting in Syria.
To the wounded and injured:
Come Lord Jesus.
To the terrified who are living in shock:
Come Lord Jesus
To the hungry and homeless, refugee and exile:
Come Lord Jesus
To those bringing humanitarian aid:
Give protection Lord Jesus
To those administering medical assistance:
Give protection Lord Jesus.
To those offering counsel and care:
Give protection Lord Jesus.
For all making the sacrifice of love:
Give the strength of your Spirit
and the joy of your comfort.
In the hope of Christ we pray. Amen.
Another moment when the world feels so small. We watch as the people of Nepal walk the rubble-filled streets in awe and shock. We pray as they move swiftly searching for survivors who are tramped beneath the layers of stone and brick. We grieve the lives lost and those fragile from injury.
Our hearts ache for this sacred land and these beautiful people. What can we do to help as we watch these events unfold? If money can be sent, I share this international fund suggested by Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Global Giving- Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund
Financial or physical action is not always possible. May we use the energy from our longing to act for prayers and meditation, sitting in solidarity.
The prayer below is offered by the Reverend Lisa Fishbeck:
Prayers for the people of Nepal this night. May they know peace in their fear, comfort in their sorrow, care in their need. May they know courage and love.
Photo taken by UNICEF
In the darkest hour the soul is replenished and given strength to continue and endure.
December 14 arrived on a Sunday this year. I woke up and prepared for a ‘normal’ Sunday morning – teaching the Advent series at St. John’s and attending the following service. While packing my things after the class I received an email from a friend wanting to talk. On this day two years ago, the town of Sandyhook CT was shaken to its core. My friend had been there on that tragic day and with the anxiety that only post-traumatic stress can bring, she sought out comfort and support. My morning plans changed. Sharing that time with her was my act of worship on this Sabbath.
There are never enough words to fill the void of such tragedy or settle the anxious heart. She needed to talk and I needed to listen. As we ended our conversation with a prayerful goodbye, I was taken back by the thought of the families by her side today, all remembering where they stood when they heard the news – gun shots had been fired and lives changed forever. No amount of imagination can place me in the middle of that confusion and pain. I can only try to be present in prayer and compassion.
Today – two years later I hear the resolve shared in Sandy Hook – a town filled with people touched by the unspeakable and committed to work for change in this country. A country over-run with guns and anger. We hear more stories each week of tragic situations. We shop for our Christmas celebration and find decorations strange and somewhat scary. I left a store today after having seen strands of lights for Christmas tree’s and other decorations made in the shape of bullet shells. The more we hear of these tragic stories and the more we see objects of violence woven into decorations, we become more desensitized and conditioned. We risk these objects and stories becoming more of the norm. Our children become more comfortable as they re-enact stories through the games they play and the items they see in their normal walk through the mall. This will not do. Love must win.
The people of Sandyhook have chosen to move outside of their darkness and into a place of strength and endurance. They believe in the power of love and the possibility of change. After two years their commitment to work for changes in our nation’s gun laws is inspiration. It is a commitment that would serve us well to consider. May we live our lives with the phrase “love wins” etched in every breath.
(a ‘thank you’ to Roger Hutchinson for sharing the above image)