The last number of months, I’ve been praying every day. For safety. For courage. For peace. It has become part of my routine, like drinking tea in the morning or brushing my teeth. Most often, I lie quietly on the couch, but sometimes I pause along my daily walk; I sit on a log or a park bench and I close my eyes. I listen to the mallards slurping in the eel grass, the song sparrows, the insistent chirps of the phoebes, the gentle ebb and flow of the bay rippling along the shore, kayakers calling out to each other in their faraway voices.
A mere three minutes every day, I pray for myself and for my wife and my family. My sister-in-law who is recovering from surgery. A friend who just lost her husband. I pray for my children and my yet-to-be born grandson who is barely the size of a grapefruit, but is already swimming and kicking and playing with his toes. I know this because of the miracle of ultrasound. I pray that all those around me stay healthy. I pray for those with COVID. I pray for reason, for facts, for enough ventilators, for the nurses who will vaccinate us. I pray that everyone will wear a mask. I pray that my turn to get the vaccine will come soon.
In the evermore existential climate crisis, I pray for the birds and trees and the earth. When the skies in California were smokey this past fall, I prayed with even greater urgency, that we might be free to breathe again. I pray for those who’ve been harmed. For anyone I have harmed. I even pray for a few of the people I struggle with. Fervently, and with as much attention as possible, I pray for President Biden and Vice-President Harris. I wish I could pray for Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, but for now, I leave that to others.
Mostly my prayers are humble and unassuming, as if I am standing on the edge of our vast universe. May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live in peace. My inner voice is quiet and tentative. I pray with reverence and hope and awe.
And then I stumble.
I am brusque with a salesperson, impatient with my wife. I am stingy and unforgiving, jealous of what others have, even though I have everything I need—and more. I disappoint myself over and over again because I have forgotten that we are all trying to do our best. And besides, who am I to judge?
Sometimes it feels like the best I can do is to pray, which is not to suggest that prayer is a little thing. On days I’m feeling scared or overwhelmed, my prayers are more like the pleading of a lost child. Please, may we be safe. May we be healthy. May we live in peace. I pray for the renewal of trust, and the safekeeping of our dreams for a just world. For the strength and stamina to face each day. For comfort and contentment.
In desperate times like these, when I fear for our democracy, my prayers, that are even more urgent, are not for me—or for those close to me—but for others. Our elected officials, for the pages and staffers, the reporters who were all forced to take cover under their desks. They may not tell us they feared for their lives, but they did. I pray for calm and clear-thinking. I pray for reason and empathy and strength. I pray that we can all pause, long enough to figure out the right thing to do, and the best way to get there. I pray for forgiveness. I pray for accountability without revenge. I pray for justice.
Today, and in the days ahead: May we be courageous. May we be bold. May we be wise.
I invite you to read related blogs including Hope Arrives Like the Tap, Tap, Tapping of a Woodpecker and Thin Places: The Possibility of Transformation. And my novel, Thin Places, that is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.