The past few weeks have been filled with words. Since Charlottesville there have been words of outrage, words of anger, words of sorrow, words of disbelief, words of fear. There have been words of hatred. There have been theological words calling us to both humility and clarity of purpose. There have been prophetic words calling for justice and hope and perseverance in the struggle. There have been legal words and posturing words. Everyone has an opinion, and there are words attached to those opinions! They come from political figures, from pastors, from historical figures who have long lived in the shadows, as well as from our co-workers and neighbors. Everyone has a word. And – truthfully – we need all those words that call us to repentance and help us all stand up to injustice.
But I’m not sure that I have any new words. I can only add my own horror as the rise of hatred takes shape in our nation. But maybe this is really a time for MORE than words. Maybe this is really a time for prayer. Down-on-our-knees-pleading-from-the-bottom-of-our-hearts kind of prayer. How long, O God? That was the Psalmist’s prayer. It could be ours as well. Hear our prayers, O God, and let our cries come unto you. Another Psalmist prayer that comes easily to our lips. And then there is the silence of deep listening. Listening for God’s voice calling us into a future we cannot see, but will help to shape whether we intend to or not. Listening into the silence for a still small voice calling each of us to play our part in making justice and peace in this place and this time. Listening as a burning bush calls our name, asking each one of us to help make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
My first spiritual director once invited me into a prayer that is very simple but that has been very powerful in my life. In the face of long-term crisis, the words of our prayer might be something like: O God, I am ready for this to be different. And then…said my spiritual director….shut up, listen to what God has in mind, and don’t argue!
These are times that call for deep courage, as we come face to face with the evils of racism and white privilege. Mother Teresa is credited with having said that courage is fear that has said itsprayers. Could this be a time for us to say our prayers and trust that we will have the courage to follow where God might lead us? I pray that it is so!
—Katherine Mulhern, Program Support/Adjunct of 2030 Iowa (Young Clergy Support)