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)
There are some years when memories of the past come around with more intensity than others. Each year I come to the birthday of Dr. Mary Beth Foil with a flood of memories – details of a time when reality was softened for a while with a friendship rich in light and creativity. Life is not long enough for many of these friendships. When they occur it is important to pay attention, every moment carries meaning.
The friendship shared between Beth and myself was filled with the sparks of dreams and love. We looked to the future with inspiration and hope. This energy was contagious and we found ourselves surrounded by others eager to imagine with us.
No one was prepared for the sudden loss of this gifted and determined spirit. While in early treatment for breast cancer, her death came suddenly and with little warning. No doubt the way she would have wanted it, the moments to say goodbye were brief. The days to follow were wrapped in sorrow and celebration.
As a hospital chaplain, I have often been present to grief’s unveiling. With all the study and work done to lay out the steps of grief, no one can really predict a person’s response to loss. Like a well, grief is deep but never filled with complete darkness. Within it can glow a light of spirit and stir a song of creation.
In the nine years since her death, I have been grateful for her family’s focus to celebrate and remember on her birthdate. We celebrate her beautiful daughter who has quickly become a young woman and the love she shared with family and friends. We give thanks for her skill in medicine and the lives she touched along the way.
I give thanks for those years we shared, caring for one another and our common passion for healing and wholeness. There are many pieces to the memories of those years. One was my introduction to Eva Cassidy. In honor and memory of Beth – I share this song in hopes that the listener has their own image of these fields…
Like many others, I spent time in August looking into a night sky filled the trails of falling stars. Watching for those magical streams that glide across the sky can be a child-like experience. There is nothing more exciting than to pay attention to the sky in the dark of night. It is so vast, so mysterious. When I was young I remember asking my father if he thought there was any life beyond this earth as we looked into a sky of twinkling lights. His answer will always stay with me, “…having created all this beauty and wisdom, why would God stop here?”
As I looked into the night’s canopy last month, remembering that conversation with my father, I took in its beauty and felt that same thrill when a star would stream before me.
There have also been times when the night sky has felt too large, out of my control, filled with things unknown, creating a sense of uncertainty and fear.
It is early morning and this year has brought us, once again, to September 11- a day eleven years ago when we awoke to watch our skies fill with objects of devastation instilling the greatest sense of sadness and fear. It was a day completely out of our control. A day when things unknown and unimaginable would change our lives forever.
Today I will look into that same sky, large enough to be filled with wonder and danger – I will look and remember the many people whose lives were lost, whose hearts were broken, and who gave all they had to aid with compassion, prayer and strength.
With eyes wide open, I remember all these things and give thanks for a sky large enough to hold all the prayers of God’s people. In faith we move forward, humbled and awakened.
I walk by faith, but I do not walk with my eyes closed. Faith does not mean I am blind to the world around me. In fact, just the reverse. Faith makes me even more aware of reality. It opens my eyes to hunger, poverty, injustice and prejudice. It offers me a vision of the beauty of creation and demands that I be held accountable for preserving that vision. I see God alive and active all around me. I am a witness to the living truth of a love so clear I cannot look away. Walk by faith and you walk with eyes wide open both to what is without and to what is within. (from Bishop Steven Charleston at Native American & Indigenous Ministry in Episcopal Church)