Grace and Peace to you.
We pray for the people and communities affected by severe storms and flooding this spring. We hold them in the light of God’s mercy, and in the care of our own hearts. Even when all is devastated, God is still present, still loving, still creating.
As we pray we deepen not only our compassion for those who suffer, but also our connection with them. And we confess our our complicity in their suffering. Recent storms of unusual severity are part of a pattern of global CO2 imbalance and climate change. Of course we do not “cause” the weather, any more than we cause earthquakes or cancer. But we do make choices that contribute to larger patterns. War, terrorism, economic crises, the spread of diseases, cultural and ethnic tensions, the degradation of the earth, and even the weather are all things we think of as being beyond our control, but they are affected by choices we make. Large global patterns are made up of small, individual choices. Every time we tolerate a racial slur or buy chocolate or bottled water or drive instead of walking, we unconsciously contribute our small bit to large patterns.
My goodness. So does this mean that our prayers should be filled with guilt and despair? No, in fact, the opposite. They should be saturated with hope and joy. Because if we have the power to contribute to global misery, we also have the power to contribute to the healing of the world. If we can be even in some small way complicit in injustice, then we can also be complicit in restoration.
In our prayer we become more conscious of the connection between our actions and the lives of others. Our deepened awareness affects our choices. Justice and compassion are no longer abstract concepts; they are the means by which we choose food, use resources, discuss politics and relate with people. Prayer becomes concrete action in our daily lives. And as we become aware of our link with others on this planet, we get closer to our sisters and brothers. This can only be a blessing.
And if we can affect someone far away by changing a light bulb or buying fair trade coffee, then we can do so as well in our prayers. Just as our visible acts have invisible affects, so our invisible prayers have visible affects. Your prayer affects the world.
Whether you mean to or not, you do treat your neighbor as yourself. So devote your life to doing no harm. Pray for those who suffer. Trust that your prayers have great power. Enfold the world in your compassion, and you will contribute to a wholly different kind of global warming.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes