T.S.Eliot began his epic poem, The Wasteland, with these words, “April is the cruellest month.” Perhaps, but November is going to come in close as the Trump Administration has declared that some 60,000 Haitians must now leave the United States. Already this administration has told some 2,500 Nicaraguans they must leave the country. The Temporary Protection Status of some 195,000 Salvadorans faces a March renewal deadline.
As we come to our Thanksgiving tables this week and plates of food are shared between family and friends, take a moment to consider how it must feel to step into this quintessential American holiday of thanks knowing you are about to lose everything and be returned to countries that are in many ways, dangerous or simply incapable of providing you and your family and friends the means to live above an impoverished existence. Let us say prayers of thanks but also let us prophetically call out for justice and compassion to inform our nation’s policies, foreign and domestic.
The cruelty of this administration seems to know no bounds. From its intentional removal of protections for the environment to protections of citizenship for the immigrant; from its colossal tax cut plan for the extremely rich and then paying for it on the backs of the poor and middle class; from its incessant itch to pick fights, divide Americans and wreck wholesale those institutions designed to elevate our civic life, the Trump Administration and its congressional aids and abettors seem fueled by a need for cruelty. The land of the free and home of the brave is quickly transmogrifying into the kingdom of Moloch.
Lord, we give thanks for our boundless blessings. We plead with you on behalf of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the immigrant: Lord, protect them and help us as a nation to throw off the wicked cruelty that blankets us. May we adorn ourselves instead with justice and mercy. We pray in the name of the immigrant holy child who sought safety in Egypt, Amen +
The first day. Day One. As your Spirit, Creator God, hovered over the vast and dark seas, so sweep over me on the beginning of this week. Re-create me. Shape and configure my days not so much that I avoid suffering as that I fulfill my life and all that is within me, a still unshaped potential.
Resurrection Day. Gardener, Good Shepherd, you were meek as you ambled among us and though you conquered death, your meek and humble presence led Magdalene to mistake you for a gardener. Tend to us and bring us into the sphere of your humble life that has overcome the world.
Sunday. Fountain of Light, fill this day and may your boundless love radiate throughout its unfolding so that we, your creation, might awaken to the light within us and stop harming ourselves, our families, and our world. Light of Light, remove the darkness and bitterness from us. For another day and week of second chances, we give thanks. Amen.
After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
t. s. eliot, from Four Quartets, Burnt Norton IV.
The sound of silence on the seventh day! Listen. This is prayer. Listen. This. is. prayer.
Hallowed is your name. Blessed are those places so sacred because we, in our labyrinth wanderings have suddenly encountered you there. We thought we were alone and abandoned, Holy One. We were certain all of this, all of this–was some accident without purpose. And then a bird hidden in a tree sang and the song of other birds, these were twined to stars barely visible in the dawn and somewhere human voices were interchanged within the grand landscape of it all and we awakened. To presence. To the sheer, staggering beauty of it all and the truth that it did not have to be. But it is. And I am.
Guide me through what the world calls Friday. Help me now to be rid of things that have kept me preoccupied and unfocused so that I give up what was vitally important for what was trivial or secondary or even mediocre. I would lay these aside like a swimmer discards the weight of clothes and objects in order to glide through the life world. I can see the sabbath rest breaking over the horizon. Rest, restoration, healing these are near.
For the Day of Rest, Lord God, we are grateful. For the end of the sixth day, its lengthening shadows arrive not as darkness but as measured rest and reprieve. I don’t need to work now. No more delusions about my work saving the world. I will ponder the Creator and Sustainer and the Liberator. To all your creatures, great and small, Lord God, bestow Sabbath rest. An end to work for a while. A reprieve from suffering. A gate opened to candles lit and friendships kindled and family embraced. Let the day begin. Let the sixth day end. Hallowed be your name. Amen.
For Thursday a plea for endurance, O God, for my work propels me toward Friday. And before I can get to Friday, I have many things to do and I carry special burdens. A prayer then that I might be focused and concentrate and with energy, complete my tasks. Lord God, I call to you: help me in my weakness and strengthen me in my strengths.
The stones of Gallilee are strewn across the shore line of the sea where you called fishermen to follow you. So it is with Thursday, tasks like stones pave my pathway. Good Shepherd of Galilee, Fisher of souls, call to me over the din of my little world and hearing you, I aim my boat toward your shore and row. Sabbath is nearing, work awaits me. God have mercy. Amen.
Midweek. The 4th day. Wednesday. Halfway home to Friday though, Sabbath God, we of the 21st century have lost sight of the star of the Sabbath to guide our paths. Darkness was separated from light on the fourth day, so place in our dimly lit lives a window opened to the light. You, who created suns and stars on the fourth day and separated darkness from light, help us at this midpoint in our week to remain silent at the still point of your rest. We breathe deeply and in silence, whispering your Holy Name. Fountain of light, fill us with light.
We are middling and middled, if that be a word; we are stuck in the in-between and have woven ourselves into plots and schemes; we are twined by events and schedules and we pray and plead on this Wednesday that you would, like a mother, bend near us and untie the knots that have begun to tighten. Reassure of us of your love and that you walk this journey with us. God, come near.
In the midst and middle of our week, in the midst of the crowd, we are raising our hands and saying to you God, here we are! Alas, you know us and are aware of our coordinates. Help us to find you for it is we who are lost to ourselves, tracking the path of this week across the field of Wednesday, the earth resolutely spinning and not consulting us for its journey. We of the midpoint seek you, whose circumference is nowhere, whose center is everywhere. Amen.