Sometimes it is hard to know what to pray for. Things are uncertain, feelings so complex, emotions so raw. Words may fail you. But yet you yearn to reach out to God and ask for help. For you, for those you love, for the world. Please help.
It is in times like these when we don’t need words. God will hear the longing in our heart.
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26.
You don’t need words. You don’t need to figure out if you’re feeling anger, grief, frustration, desperation. You just want God to keep you safe. Open your heart. God will hear its groanings.
For an inspiring prayer sung by a father-daughter duo, take a moment to savor this.
Let St. Francis of Assisi’s timeless prayer soothe your soul today:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life
And, for a special soul-reviving treat, listen to Sarah McLachlan as she sings these precious words. Maybe listen a few times.
May there always be work for your hands to do May your purse always hold a coin or two; May the sun always shine on your windowpane; May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain; May the hand of a friend always be near you; May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
And one more for the road:
May the blessing of light be upon you, Light on the outside, Light on the inside.
With God’s sunlight shining on you, May your heart glow with warmth, Like a turf fire that welcomes friends and strangers alike.
May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes, Like a candle in the window, Welcoming the weary traveller.
For better or worse, we have pushed a collective pause button. Our world just got narrower on the outside. Perhaps this is the time to broaden it on the inside. Enjoy the moments. Reach out to people to check in and tell them you care. Savor the little things. Pause and reflect.
Amid a country-wide quarantine in Italy, a beautiful voice sings out into the empty streets, only to be joined by more voices, until their chorus warms the entire world. Enjoy this reminder that, even as we struggle. we belong to each other.
A Siena, città alla quale sono molto legato, si sta in casa ma si canta insieme come se si fosse per la strada. Mi sono commosso pic.twitter.com/IDPqNEj3h3
In every darkness, a bit of light will shine to light your way. It may be in the acts of kindness and generosity you see, in words of wisdom you remember and hold close to your heart, or memories of past struggles that you have gotten through to the other side. We draw strength and courage from each other, working together. That community will sustain us.
In his book, Healing the Divide, editor James Crews collects poem of kindness and compassion. Here is one by Danusha Laméris for you to carry with you today:
“I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. ‘Don’t die,’ we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each other, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, ‘Here have my seat,’ ‘Go ahead—you first,’ ‘I like your hat.’”
We will get through this present darkness. Hold tight to the little kindnesses, savor them, and spread them where you can to light the way for those behind you.
For more, a reminder that we were made for times like these.
Sometimes it’s easy to respond in love. People are kind; you’re kind in return. Someone is generous to you; you pay it forward to someone else.
But sometimes it isn’t easy at all. Sometimes it feels like the world is on fire, and everyone is rushing around thinking only of saving themselves. You feel vulnerable, exposed, in danger. You are on emotional high alert, alarms clanging. What then?
It is in these times, that any shows of love shine like light in darkness. Focusing on expressing your love gives the people you care about safe harbor. Focusing on being gentle with the people around you can calm the tide.
When we lose our way or feel overwhelmed, we can return to nature and be renewed. Hear the birds singing their spring song. Watch them collect twigs and bits for their nests. See the long grass ripple in a gentle wind like ocean waves. Breathe in the sweet earthy fragrance of the morning. Feel small and surrounded by an amazing, complicated system that has been pulsating with life for millions of years. That awe is good for us:
“It has long been established that a healthy diet and lots of sleep and exercise bolster the body’s defenses against physical and mental illnesses. But the new study, whose findings were just published in the journal Emotion, is one of the first to look at the role of positive emotions in that arsenal.
“That awe, wonder, and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions—a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art—has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” says UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a coauthor of the study.”
Breathe in the day, full of life and possibility. Breathe out the stress, the worry, the defeat. In. Out. In. Out. In.
In this beautiful film set to the words of Brother David Steindhl-Rast, you can’t help but see much of what makes life good and affirming. What if we learn to appreciate each day as if it is our first day…and our last? What if we appreciate each miracle as it presents itself to us throughout the day…the miracle of sight, of running water, of food, of laughter? What then?
As we bump and bustle our way through life, we often don’t notice other people much, maybe never pause to wonder what they may be going through in life. Usually they are just the person in the way, or the one in front of us in line, or the one who is doing a dismally poor job of getting our order right. But if we could step back and see their interior lives, we may get a whole lot of patience in a hurry. Everybody is carrying a load of some kind. Everybody hurts.
Or, as Jon Pavlovitz says in this insightful article, everybody grieves:
Everyone around you; the people you share the grocery store line with, pass in traffic, sit next to at work, encounter on social media, and see across the kitchen table—are all experiencing the collateral damage of living.They are all grieving someone, missing someone, worried about someone.Their marriages are crumbling or their mortgage payment is late or they’re waiting on their child’s test results, or they’re getting bananas five years after a death and still pushing back tears because the loss feels as real as it did that first day.
Every single human being you pass by today is fighting to find peace and to push back fear; to get through their daily tasks without breaking down in front of the bananas or in the carpool line or at the post office.
Maybe they aren’t mourning the sudden, tragic passing of a parent, but wounded, exhausted, pain-ravaged people are everywhere, everydaystumbling all around us—and yet most of the time we’re fairly oblivious to them.
If we could keep this reality in the forefront of our mind as we make our way through the hustle and bustle, we would be gentler, kinder, more patient. And that would do a world of good for our weary world.