A Pandemic Prayer

I found this prayer on a favourite Facebook chatroom this morning, “Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.” It comes from Dr. Lou Kavar. I don’t know Dr. Kavar, but if the following gorgeous prayer is any indication, he’s likely one we should get to know! Read this prayer slowly, intentionally, communally, and often, especially as we struggle together in difficult times.

Sir, I thank you for this. My readers will as well I am sure.

A Prayer in the Midst of the Pandemic
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Author of Life:

In your wisdom, the cosmos was born filling the expanse with immense diversity.

In your creativity, a blue planet with unique life sustained by water and a perfect atmosphere came together from particles of cosmic dust.

In your compassion, life evolved to enable human beings to be conscious of the great expanse of the cosmos and to stand in awe at the wonder of being alive.

Sustainer of Our Being:

In this pandemic, we’re facing the fragility of life in a new way.

In this health crisis, our concerns for our future have confused us as we’ve struggled to respond to a new illness and, at times, have diminished our own well-being.

In this global crisis, our desire to maintain the ways of life we have known has prevented us from acting wisely.

Source of Compassion:

Today, I am mindful of all those who suffer because of COVID 19, who fight coronavirus infection in their bodies.

Today, I mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands of people who have died alone struggling for breath because of this strange illness.

Today, I join with those in grief who have lost loved ones, often without the opportunity to be with them as they passed or to bid them farewell.

Pillar of Justice:

Move the hearts of lawmakers whose desire for political gain prevents them from acting to promote the common good.

Bend the hearts of those who scheme of ways to profit from the suffering of others.

Melt the hearts of those who in their fears and uncertainty cling to conspiracies that endanger them, their loved ones, and their communities.

Fount of All That is Good:

Give us wisdom to protect ourselves and to live healthy lives during this pandemic.

Give us reverence for the lives of others as we wear masks in public to lower the rate of viral infection.

Give us patience as we adapt to new ways of living, working, learning, and sharing in daily activities.

Give us the faith to understand that you are with us through every moment of life, both in the blessings and in the challenges.

It is in trust of your goodness that we pray this day, affirming that life itself is truly an amazing gift, both today and every day.  Amen.

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Photo by Serenae on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

© 2020, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

Easing Pandemic Pandemonium

I say lots of stuff in this blog.

Some of it reasonable I suppose. Some of it, well, shit. Not because I’m stupid or otherwise callous. Maybe because I’m oblivious to all the information required to make believable judgements on things. Perhaps I just like the sound of my own voice. Either way, I muster the faith available, mix whatever humility might be kickin’ around, and offer this hopeful scenario and prayer to help ease our collective pandemic pandemonium.

After weeks of isolation, riots, racism, growing suspicions, job losses, and a general fear of everything, it is hardly a surprise that the faith of many grows cold. Two things should, by now, be evident: humanity is more blind and broken than we’d even suspected. And, two, if God is sovereign, where the hell is (S)he?

In such a broken, sick, divided hour, can hope still be on the table as a viable option? When everywhere one looks the gloves are off, all manner of gauntlet thrown down, ideological lines drawn in neighbourhood sand, trigger fingers itching and ready, ideological (and, for some, real) guns cocked, barrels loaded and pointed, each of us in someone else’s crosshairs, can we still see another human being as worthy of concern? Equally broken? Equally beloved?

These days, our days have intrinsic meaning not because we can count on them for all the reasons we once did – a routine, a schedule to keep, pants awaiting your legs (not a given during lockdown!), coffee waiting to be made, a family awaiting their breakfast, a job awaiting our attention, responsibilities, decisions. Instead, these pandemic days must find their meaning in more faith-led ways; because of their place in the God-created, God-loved cosmos.

We could choose to do nothing at all from beginning to end of day and it would still be sacred. But how creative, how “productive”, how formative a day can be rests in our hands. Each day can move from intrinsically meaningful to prophetically responsible as we awaken to its possibilities.

Let today, this day, be instantly recognizable as a gift. Are we grateful to arise to its potential? Can we place ourselves at God’s disposal to hear and delight in whatever we hear? Can we trust enough in the Divine initiative to carry our lack of it into good places of prayer and friendship and encouragement? Can we lay aside the weight of our own pandemic pandemonium enough to hear that of another?

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“Let my love, demeanour, and trust carry the wonder of these days to others. Let my faith be the harbour into which lonely, fearful souls find safety and rest, a place to rebuild. May there be enough faith in me today that, after it spills out to those around me it may grow to encompass my own fears and insecurity. Today, I choose to sublimate all fear under the embrace of a much greater God whose arm remains strong against every storm.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.”

Corona-daze: just breathe

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When the walls of fury and dystopia threaten our made up worlds,

just breathe.

When coughing madness spews upon us its pointless fury,

just breathe.

When those bent on denying as “fake” anything “those ones” have said,

just breathe.

When “those ones” spend all their time trumpeting the correction as the end,

just breathe.

When hints of community are abandoned for mutual blaming,

just breathe.

When neighbours and friends respond to us as foreigners and enemies,

just breathe.

When social distance becomes an excuse to deepen selfishness,

just breathe.

When social distance deepens our loneliness, broadens our fears,

just breathe.

 

When time and brilliance and humanity once again find their way,

just breathe.

When the disparate voices of the many find semblance of singularity,

just breathe.

When the despair from our losses kisses the tears of our gratitude,

just breathe.

When the detritus of our streets, our homes, our world is swept away,

just breathe.

When the heroes of our wholeness return to their own neglected homes,

just breathe. 

When opens again the doors of mosque and church, synagogue and hall,

just breathe.

When real, unimagined community replaces rampant, unbalanced commerce,

just breathe.

When masks, gloves, distance, and disinfectant give way to gathered embrace,

just breathe.

When the darker memories of our day become the fodder for our laughter,

just breathe.

When breathing and prayer are indistinguishable,

just breathe.

 

Just breathe.

 

Remarkable image by Larisa Koshkina

 

 

“Do you want to be healed?”

“Do you want to be healed?”

For the longest time I had attributed it to the insistent paradigm of the poet’s logic, the lover’s unrequited dreams, the shifting clouds of the philosopher’s quest – all searching for something – a reality as numinous and perfect as it is deceptively secret and stubbornly resistant to conquest.

An ever-present sense of melancholy, a numbing ache, an unnameable yearning – desolation even – has draped my consciousness for many years. It seems I am a walking advertisement for mood enhancing substances and the pharmaceutical drug trade (or, maybe just self-pity?)

Sometimes, and inexplicably, my soul is shot through with little darts of light – suggestions of heaven, of how things truly are. They come unbidden mostly as ghostly sojourners, inhabitants of a more perfect realm come to slake my wheezing soul with wine, bread, and perhaps a song or two.

In recent days, this ubiquitous, verbose Demon of Grey Souls has gnawed at me for so long that it seems, by virtue of that fact, to have overplayed its hand. The hide ‘n seek after contentment, so long now the haunt of my days, has been smoldering behind its best hiding places under new rays of sun. I had willingly become a pawn in a cat and mouse game and my overseer has grown too fat to hide well.

New light, still diffuse and weak, but less coy or troublesome, is asking me a question; the ironic question Jesus once posed to some poor bugger by the Jerusalem Sheep Gate: do you want to be healed?

On the surface it’s a question as ridiculous as asking two young lovers, separated by time and circumstance, whether they’d like to make love. Upon reflection however, it reveals shear genius and a profound knowledge of the human psyche. In asking such a question, Jesus becomes more than just miracle-worker, more than a first-century doctor. He becomes psychologist and spiritual director.

He gazes beyond the obvious malady to which this fellow is chained and sees something else. His question is aimed at the man’s fear, not of remaining ill, but of the unknown world that might just open to him in the face of his healing. To be healed is to rejoin society. It is to refuse the Hogwart’s sorting hat from placing you once again into the House of Sufferin’. It is to relinquish the comfortable role of pitied and pitiful, dependent on the succoring cries of others, and take up one’s place responsibly as contributor and co-builder of a just and compassionate world.

The Spirit of God is revealing to me just how long I have sat beside my own Beth-zatha (see Jn. 5:2ff) with the expectation of healing but full of excuses for why it shouldn’t have or hasn’t yet happened. The brooding and mysterious artist persona, complete with philosopher-poet mystique and generous helping of eyes-down, hood-up melancholy is no longer a big enough hiding place for the overwhelming presence of this question, posed by Jehovah-Rapha (God, our healer).

Perhaps it’s about timing, we must wait until our own “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4)? Perhaps God is content, as in the case of Job, to let us sit in our sackcloth and ashes long enough to remove all doubt that we’re so buried that only another can save us? Perhaps it’s just “our turn?”

Says Marilyn Gardiner, “We sit, often for years, with our paralysis. It may not be physical paralysis, but it is just as debilitating and defeating as physical paralysis. It prevents us from truly living, from being who we are called to be.”*

Whatever the case, I am ready to answer ‘yes’ to the question of Jesus. I am ready to shed one skin, now old and overused, and don a better one.  I am ready to see what has always existed just below the surface of my murky water. 

I think I’m ready to say ‘yes.’

I’m ready to say ‘yes.’

I say, ‘yes.’

Yes.

Will you?

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*Excerpted from Marilyn R. Gardiner’s wonderful blog, Communicating Across Boundaries