Some days I wake in the morning disoriented, my mind mixing up my dreamscape with the reality of what transpires in life. In my dreamscape, my arms reach for a cerulean sky, a perfect sky. This image becomes the metaphor for the total goodness and beauty I wish would enfold this earth we inhabit. Then I awaken in full to a new day with the weight of all that remains unchanged pressing against my shoulders and telling me to keep my eyes closed. It is almost as if to keep my eyes closed I can then continue to imagine a different sort of world—empty of natural disasters, empty of human beings holding hateful intent toward other human beings.
One such week prompted the words of lament unfolding in this litany. I hesitate to name the week because I find these events could be part of another week or another week or another week.
But I wrote these words as a yearning to encounter hope even as I cupped a depth of hopelessness. I wrote these words because although this earth can be unrelenting, I wanted a space to acknowledge and confess the ways we are complicit. I wrote these words because I wanted to remember that unrelenting can also describe God.
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ONE: This earth we inhabit is a place
Where hurricanes ravage and mudslides refuse to retreat,
Where hate carries torches instead of cowering in fear,
Where too often we speak of lives lost as numbers and not names, Where our place of birth impacts our length of life.
ALL: Our children, our small ones, they sing of a world held in your cupped hands.
And the psalmist writes of righteousness and justice, the Foundations of your throne.
ONE: In Lamentations, we read of your mercies,
Your mercies, Oh Lord, as New each day.
Then tell us, tell us, we plead and we beg
What happens when over days or weeks or months or years or even centuries
This world spins out of its orbit:
A ball of dirt and stone
Flung adrift in the galaxy
When these foundations
Of righteousness and justice
Become rubble beneath our bare feet?
ALL: When we wake in the morning and
The new day is worse than the old,
When we long for you but
We don’t see Heaven pressing against earth or the righting of wrongs,
When we don’t find you
In the groan of the wind,
In the splintering of quaking land,
In the heat of flames and fire.
ONE: Instead, all we hear Is a whisper
A still small voice.
But Lord, we don’t want just whispers.
We long for the might
Of raging rivers that carve canyons,
Of hands raised that calm the storm,
Of a moon that blots out the sun.
ALL: We cry, show us the foundations of your throne.
ONE: And you, Lord, you invite us forth Into a sacred confession that gives rest.
Make us people who can say
We confess there are ways we have kneeled before a power that ignores
Instead of falling face down at the foot of the cross.
We confess that we are complicit in maintaining the very world we say we want changed.
ALL: We confess we have thirsted after the fount of a comfort that blinds.
ONE: It is not us that holds this orbit
With these words of confession, we say for ourselves and our communities
ALL: Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty!
ONE: The very foundation of all that was, and is, and is to come
You cup the orbit of this spinning planet
Between your holy palms.
This earth is held, this earth is held, this earth is held.
If your mercies are new each day, oh Lord Then as the earth spins on its axis
And faces the rising sun,
Spill this gold over our bodies.
ALL: Make us fearless beacons of your radiant light. Amen.
This is an excerpt taken from Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice (Fresh Air Books, 2020).