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Archive for the ‘Something to Pray For’ Category

What a great “visit” we all had with Janice Lynne Lundy, our very first guest blogger here on Bead One, Pray Too. We had 23 comments, and, as promised, we will send a copy of Jan’s new book, Your Truest Self to one of the winners. I am going to throw all the names of the people who commented into a pot (minus me!) and have my husband draw one out of a hat. I’ll post the result tomorrow.

For those of you who want more of Jan, today is Monday, so if you go to her blog, Awake is Good, you’ll get her usual feature, “Meditation Monday.” I highly recommend it. It has helped me get my week off to a good start more than once.

Now, sad things. Like most people, I am shocked and sad about the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas last Thursday – the very day Jan visited us and we talked about such positive things. The news today reports that the shooter is awake and talking. But I am sure no one will ever be able to understand the motivation and reasoning behind such a terrible act. And as for whether he is a Muslim or not, I fall in with those who say anyone who claims to be a member of any faith and then commits such an act is a liar and a fake.

So today I ask that we pray for both the victims and the perpetrator of the crime. The victims and their families need our prayers to live with their losses and fears, and the victim needs our prayers to live with the fallout of his acts for the rest of his life. Here’s a prayer from the website From Tears to Hope to get you started:

Prayer for Victims:

I pray and wish that you
have eternal peace with God,
and for you to know that you
are always in our hearts and minds.
I ask that God let you watch over
future victims and alleviate their fear.

 

 

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I see it has been more than a month since I posted. And I sure didn’t anticipate coming back with this post. But as I woke this morning, my heart was so heavy with this story (which happened last weekend) I feel I must write about it to alleviate the pain it is causing me.

As many of you may have heard by now, a 15-year-old girl was gang raped at a homecoming dance at a high school in Richmond, Calif.  Richmond is the next town south of us. The girl’s ordeal last  more than 2 hours and was witnessed by at least 20 students and other young people. No one called 911. No one came to her aid. Many of the kids joined in the girl’s beating and rape or took videos of what was happening or just stood by.  You can read about the incident here. National Public Radio has had two programs on the story, which you can listen to here and here.

This incident has  just burdened my heart. I am just old enough to remember the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY – also a few towns away from where I was living as a child. I remember picking up on the terror and the horror of her story, probably transmitted to me by the adults around me – most of them single women like my mom and Kitty.

This kind of crime is something that happens in a war zone, in a place where the societal framework has entirely broken down. This is something that happens in Bosnia. This is something that happens in Rwanda. This is something that should not happen in this country. No excuses.

I am asking today that we pray for the victim, of course. I cannot imagine what this girl is going through right now or what her life will be like in the wake of such a trauma. But I also ask that we pray for everyone who was a part of this crime – and every witness to what happened is as guilty as the rapists themselves in my book. Why? Because I can’t help asking myself what their inaction says about the brutality and hopelessness of their own lives. Where did they learn that such behavior is okay? From their parents? From their peers? Can you imagine the deserts of their souls? How immoral, how unfeeling, how hopeless does a person – a teenager – have to be to watch the gang rape of a peer and do nothing?

So here is the prayer I am saying today on my prayer beads. It is from Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated, and is by Julia Park Rodrigues, a contributor to the book. The original is in the first-person. I have adapted it so that we can pray for others. It is titled “For Peace After Sexual Assault.

Loving God, we know that you hold us in the palm of your hand.

We know it is so.

But why, O Lord, why?

We rage at this sin against one of us, at this defilement of her body, this assault on her peace of mind.

We mourn her lost serenity, security, confidence;

We mourn the loss of her ease and open nature.

We hate what this assault has done to her.

We feel that her body and soul may never be the same.

What has been forced on her may not be forgotten.

But send your healing on her like cool rain.

Soothe her spirit with the balm of your tender love.

Help her to feel secure again, as safe as ever within the shelter of the Lord.

Let her anger not turn inward to self-loathing,

but outward for action and purpose: to help other like her,

to bring hope to those whose faith is not so strong.

Help her, with your grace,

to moove beyond victim, to call herself survivor instead.

May you (and we and she) forgive this offense against her

and grant her the peace and serenity

of a mind and body made whole again.

Amen

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Gee, that’s a cheery title. But it is really how I am feeling these days. No real cause – no sickness, death or sadness in my circle of family and friends; no mid-life crisis; no loss or suffering. Just having trouble these days raising the energy it takes to pray or practice.

That’s why I’ve been silent for longer than usual. I do not want anyone to worry. I am looking at this as a natural cycle. Your car’s gas tank routinely runs low, why should it not be the same for our spirit’s gas tank? The question is how to fill it up again? And I am not sure I know the answer to that. I am kinda sitting around waiting for – excuse the phrase – the spirit to move me.

In the meantime, I would love to post comments from readers about how they deal with their own spiritual desert. Do you turn to certain books, scriptures, friends, family? Do you try to take hikes or walks in inspirational places? Do you seek help from spiritual advisors? What helps replenish your soul?

Now that is off my chest, I want to turn to something to pray for. I was listening to National Public Radio this morning and there was an excellent, heartbreaking story from reporter Tom Bowman about a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2006. His name was Sgt. Jared Monti, and today his family will be present with the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the White House. You can hear the original report here. What you need to know is Sgt. Monti’s soldiers came under heavy and very close fire by Taliban troops. One man went down and when another man wanted to go and get him, Sgt. Monti said No, he is my guy. I go get him. He was mortally wounded in the attempt, and as he lay dying, with his other troops trying to reach him, he called out, “Tell my family I am good with God and I love them.”

Sigh. What can I say after that? It struck me to the quick and I thought I would ask us all to pray for Sgt. Monti and his family. And if you feel so moved, there is a scholarship fund set up in his name. Here’s a military prayer that comes from Beliefnet, contributed by one of its members, named Maury1. I think you can adapt it to your particular faith by changing the divine address, if you feel the need to. I do not know what faith Sgt. Monti followed, but I would assume it was Christianity:

Dear Lord Jesus and Mary, Mother of God,
Hold all these brave souls in the palm of your hand, comfort them and their families.

Send angels of protection, love, and comfort to all the service men and women still at war,
bring them home safely and comfort their families.

We ask all our prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.

– Beliefnet member maury1

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Old Men

I have not meant to be silent for so long. I have been busy – as I am sure we all have – with end-of-summer rituals and last-minute vacations, all of them balanced with work, work, work.

But I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and one of the things I came across, about an older man who had to defend himself, his employee and his business from a group of robbers, struck me as something we all might think about and pray on. The man, Charles Augusto, Jr., shot four robbers, all young men, who tried to rob his business and pistol ship his employee. Two of the robbers died and the other two were in serious condition, last time I checked. Mr. Augusto is being hailed as a hero, but he feels like anything but. Here’s the story, from the NY Times, and here’s the section that hit me in the gut:

“While Mr. Augusto, who was born in Yonkers to parents of Dutch, Irish, English and Italian descent, is by no means troubled financially, he described himself as a person whose life had dealt him his share of blows. About 12 years ago, his son committed suicide. Mr. Augusto called his years as a young man in the Coast Guard “the only time I had any fun in my whole life.” He said he has not been able to pay himself since January.”

and . . .

“Despite all the congratulations, Mr. Augusto said he wished that the men had left when he urged them to and that he would not have had to use the shotgun.

“I know the pain these people must feel,” he said, referring to the families of the two who were killed. “I don’t know what feels worse, now or when my only son died.””

On the same day, the Times ran another story about another man Mr. Augusto’s age whose life also didn’t turn out as he would have wanted. As a young man, Albert Perdeck was a seaman aboard the USS Bunker Hill when it was attacked by the Japanese. He survived, but many of his friends did not, and the horrors he saw that day still haunt him. He has only recently found his way to a support group for WWII veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the part of the story that got me:

“Mr. Perdeck sits in a small community room at Leisure Village West, surrounded by the brittle newspapers and old photographs he carries with him. “Everyone’s laughing,” he says of today’s world, voice rising again, tears coming again. “And I still smell it! I smell it now — beyond 60 years!”

You’ve seen these Al Perdecks all your life — sipping early-morning coffee, say, with buddies at McDonald’s — but less so now. Stocky, not tall, with shock-white hair and a Norman Mailer look of pugnacity. Wearing shorts, dark socks and a boxy baseball cap embroidered with the name of the ship on which he served. You’ve seen him.”

Two men of a certain age, a certain generation that does not always know how to reach out for help. I ask that today we remember these two men, and all people whose lives and work have not always brought the fruits they deserve, in our prayers and on our prayer beads. Here’s a prayer to get you started. If using prayer beads, maybe say this whole prayer on the charm before beginning your usual round of prayers.

Lord God, Father of us all,

I thank you for the lives of our elders,

I lift them up to you, Lord.

Encircle them with the light of your love.

As their world continues to diminish,

Let them feel the embrace of your everlasting arms surrounding them, upholding them;

Enable them to rest under the shadow of your wings;

Give them such an awareness of your presence

That all fear and anxiety will be driven from them

So that they may abide in your perfect peace.

I entrust them to you, Lord; love them home.

(–adapted from “A Prayer for Elderly Parents” by Patricia O. Horn in “Women’s Uncommon Prayers”)

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Today marks the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, three days after the same anniversary (Aug. 6) of the bombing of Hiroshima. The bombings, the first deployment of nuclear weapons, killed more than 200,000 people – men, women and children. For more information about the religious community’s commemoration of this sad day and resources on how to observe it, go to the website of the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger.

So, in today’s category of something to pray for, I suggest we remember the victims of those bombings and all other bombings, right up to present-day terror attacks and war strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. I found a prayer on the website of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program titled “A Prayer for Those Attacked by Bombs and Rockets.” I suggest we try it this week – in some form – on our prayer beads. Perhaps say the whole prayer on the first “Our Father” bead, if you are using a Catholic rosary, or the “invitatory bead” if you are using an Anglican one. If you use another form – mala, subha or something else – adapt it as you see fit. The prayer goes like this:

Eternal God,
On this day we pause to remember
The devastating power we have crafted from your creation.
We remember people attacked by bomb blast or rocket attack
In Folkestone and Guernica,
In Warsaw and Rotterdam,
In London and Coventry,
In Pearl Harbor and Wake Island,
In Hamburg and Dresden,
In Pyongyang and Hanoi,
In Baghdad and Tel Aviv,
In Oklahoma City and Bali,
In Belfast and Madrid,
In Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
In places whose names have been lost,
Whose people we have forgotten.
Hold those who have died in your love.
Strengthen those who still struggle with wounds.
Comfort family members who grieve.
Pour your Holy Spirit anew upon the human family
That the day might come when
Bombs and rockets and all weapons of war
May be beaten into implements of healing and wholeness.
Through Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen.

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In the category of something worth praying for . . . .

In Monday’s New York Times, there was an article by Dan Frosch about uranium contamination in many homes in the Navajo Nation. It seems that many Navajo houses show high levels of poisonous uranium left over from the days when these Native Americans mined the element for the U.S. government. You can read the article for a better understanding than I can give you about the physical impact of the poisoning. I was struck by what the article said about the spiritual toll it has taken on the Navajo:

Ms. Lane described the difficulty of watching families, particularly elders, leaving homes they had lived in for years. She told of coming upon two old miners who died before their contaminated homes could be rebuilt. “In Navajo, a home is considered sacred,” she said. “But if the foundation or the rocks are not safe, we have to do this work.”

Later in the story, a Navajo man whose home is contaminated andwill likely be destroyed, said, “In our traditional way, a house is like your mom . . . It’s where you eat, sleep, where you’re taken care of. And when you come back from the city, you come back to your mom. It makes you feel real good.”

When we use our prayer beads this week, I suggest we pray for the people of the Navajo Nation who must lose their homes – even if it is temporary. I also suggest we remember all people, both here and abroad, who are homeless. Here is a Navajo prayer to get you going:

Today I will walk out, today everything evil will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.

In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.

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Standing up to prejudice

Standing up to prejudice

In the category of “something to pray for” . . .

I was watching the ABC Nightly News last Thursday night when they showed a story about the terrible prejudice and violence raging between the Uighurs and the Han in China. The images were particularly awful – men and women with bloody faces, people crying. Horrible. Particularly striking was the still photo of a single Uighur woman, whose husband and brothers had been arrested and taken no one knows where, standing up to the Chinese soldiers. You can see video of this story here.

How easy it is to say, “That is terrible. But it isn’t here.” But you only had to watch the very next story to have that shoved right back in your face.

The next story was about a community swimming pool in suburban Pennsylvania that had a contract with an inner city day camp to allow its children – almost all of the African-American – to use the pool one or two days a week. When the children showed up, white people got out of the pool and made comments about how the black children might steal from them, etc. You know the kind of thing. I won’t honor them with repeating those foul ideas here. Then, in what must surely be the worst case of tin ear in a decade, a spokesperson for the swimming pool issued a statement saying because they worried that the black children might “change the complexion” of their pool, they were returning the camp’s money and canceling their contract. You can watch video of this story here.

It does happen here. Everyday. Everywhere – despite the election of the first African-American president, the nomination of the first Latina to the Supreme Court, the first whatever. Watch these two stories. Look at the faces of the Uighur woman who has endured state-sponsored racism and the little boy who was told he wasn’t good enough to swim with the white folks. Then, in the coming week,  let’s all offer this prayer for tolerance and understanding taken from the Islamic tradition:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL, look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the controversial teachings of arrogance, divisions and hatreds which have badly infected our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; reunite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish Your purposes on earth; that, in Your good time, all nations and races may jointly serve You in justice, peace and harmony.

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CrownI think I missed a week in this category. It certainly wasn’t because there was a dearth of things worthy of our thoughts and prayers. Hardly. I just could not get past the media hype about Michael Jackson (you don’t really need me to make a hotlink for him, do you?) to find anything really meaningful to say there and then there’s the fact that we got a new puppy (!!!!!) and so now I am sleep deprived. Throw in a couple of deadlines . . . and anyway, those are my excuses.

But last night, lying in bed, I was catching up on some old New York Times newspapers and I came across an essay in the Sunday Styles section (always the first place I go on a Sunday because of its guilty pleasure combination of worthy writing about usually unworthy subjects). Anyway, the first thing I read in the section is the Modern Love essay. This is written each week by a different person and always has to do with the accommodations people make in their lives to find room for love – of a significant other, a child, a parent, a passion – anything. Usually, these are a good read. Once in a while they really suck. And occasionally, for me, they hit a home run. That happened last week in the June 28 issue of the paper.

In that day’s essay, “Raising a Princess Single-Handedly,” Simon Van Booy wrote about the way he and his four-year-old daughter are learning to live together as a family after the sudden death of his wife, her mother. This is a subject that hits home for me. As many of you know, I have two sons – but they are really my stepsons. I married their father after their mother died suddenly, just before Christmas. They boys were then 6 and 8. And I remember how they and their father tried to put their lives together after that lightning bolt. So when I read this piece, it really resonated as true.

I think it also struck me because today would have been my best friend’s 45th birthday. Happy Birthday, Darrell. I love you.

So this week, I ask that as we use our prayer beads, we say a round for all those who suffer the loss of a close family member or other dear loved one.  Here’s a prayer to get you started:

May we discover through pain and torment,
the strength to live with grace and humor.
May we discover through doubt and anguish,
the strength to live with dignity and holiness.
May we discover through suffering and fear,
the strength to move toward healing.
May it come to pass that we be restored to health and to vigor.
May Life grant us wellness of body, spirit, and mind.
And if this cannot be so, may we find in this transformation and passage
moments of meaning, opportunities for love
and the deep and gracious calm that comes
when we allow ourselves to move on.

– Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro (as posted on Beliefnet.com)

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Neda

This week, when it came time to pick something to pray for, I did not have to look very far. That is a sad statement. I think we’ve all seen the pictures coming out of Iran for the last week and half and none of them has made an impact like that of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young Iranian woman shot and bleeding to death in the street. In case you missed it – and shame on you, if you have – here’s an article from the LA Times by Borzou Daragahi, a classmate of mine at Columbia who has been doing excellent work from the Middle East for the last four or five years.

Neda’s story brings home the tragedy of what is happening in Iran in a way nothing else has to me. I have followed the story from afar, shaken my head at the audacity of the ruling party in Iran and worried for the protesters brave enough to stand up for their beliefs. But the death of this woman somehow made this story personal. She could have been any one of us.

So this week, as you use your prayer beads, I ask that you say a special prayer for Neda Agha-Soltan, who many see as a martyr to the cause of freedom.  And let us all pray for peace  so that young women who are guilty of nothing more than wanting their vote to count won’t have to lose their lives in the pursuit of it.

Here is a prayer, from Give Us Grace: An Anthology of Anglican Prayers, to get you started:

God our father

You are the source of all truth and peace:

Look with mercy on your children

Purify our hearts from hatred, falsehood and prejudice

And so guide us by your loving wisdom

That peace a righteousness may be established among all people.

Amen.

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I have been thinking for a few months that I’d like to start a new addition to this blog, a regular – perhaps weekly – segment where I tell you all about something going on out there in the world that I think would be worth directing prayer to. Something happened in this week’s news that prompted me to it – the murder of the security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by a white supremacist.

But why this particular event? I mean, in any given week – hell, in any given moment of the day – there is enough misery in the world that is worthy of our prayerful thoughts and intentions. Here’s a sample just from this week’s news: bombings and assassinations in Pakistan; people still living in FEMA trailers in New Orleans; possible election fraud in Iran; fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and let us not forget Darfur.  And that’s just what I can recall off the top of my head. So why single out the murder of one person by another?

The answer lies in this excellent commentary I heard this morning on National Public Radio given by one of my all-time favorite journalists, Scott Simon. Simon reminds us of all that this security guard, Stephen Tyrone Jones, placed on the line every day he went to work, and he alerts us to the fact that despite the election of Barack Obama our country’s hideous legacy of racial hatred is not extinguished.

So I suggest we use our prayer beads this week to pray for two things: to honor the sacrifice of Mr. Jones and to change the hearts of people who hate those who they perceive as less than themselves on the basis of race, nationality or religion. Here are two prayers to get you started, both collected by Maggie Oman Shannon in Prayers for Hope and Comfort:

Oh God, we seek your forgiveness for the numerous injustices around us, for our inability to create a world of equality.

We pray for a deepening of our commitment to justice, for the ability to reflect on the many ways in which we offend people of other creeds, of the opposite sec, of other nations.

Above all, we ask for the courage to stand up as witness-bearers for justice, though this may be against ourselves.

–Unitarian-Universalist prayer

Come Holy Spirit, whose justice outwits international conspiracy,

whose light outshines religious bigotry,

whose peace can halt our patriarchal hunger for dominance and control,

whose promise invigorates every new efort:

to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever. Amen.

–Diarmuid O’Murchu


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