“One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.”—Thomas Merton (via wordslessspoken)
We are a nation in great need of prayer. Perhaps this has always been true from the founding our Republic onward. And in each generation there has been a moment that seemed too dire, too challenging to overcome.
The moment our nation faces is one of great opportunity. To set aside division and seek compromise instead. To finally address violence—in our schools, our homes, our places of worship and in our streets. Not only the violence perpetrated by guns, but the violence waged with written word, tongue and silence.
Our opportunity is found in the hope that we might finally address poverty, ending homelessness and hunger. An opportunity to end discrimination in all its forms. And our nation faces a moment in which we might once again seek a balance between corporate greed and community need.
Yes, we are a nation in need of prayer.
The forthcoming Inauguration will offer two such moments of prayer. An invocation and benediction are offered to begin and end the ceremony. As was true four years ago, the selection of an Evangelical Christian leader has sparked a great deal of controversy in recent days. Today that pastor, known for his public statements against homosexuality and the basic freedom of gays and lesbians, withdrew from his place on the dais.
That seems appropriate. It is surprising that the pastor was ever invited to begin with. This, after all, is the most progressive President to ever serve in regards to equality and gay rights. Those that share the podium—especially those offering prayer for the President and the country—should share those views.
I would expect the faith leader asked to offer the benediction would also come from a tradition and perspective that shares the President’s views on economics, social justice, gender equity and the common good overall.
Bishop Gene Robinson, outgoing Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire would be a good choice. I say so not only because of his historic role in the church related to gay rights, but also because of his tireless work for the common good. Robinson offered a prayer at one of the Inaugural events four years ago but was not asked to be a part of the Inauguration itself.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and a “Nun on the Bus” would be another excellent choice.
Finally, I offer a hope that is likely too premature to be viable. Why must the benediction or invocation be lead by a Christian leader? America is now the most religiously diverse nation in the world. Isn’t it time that our most important official events reflect that pluralistic nature?
Regardless of who offers the prayer, I return to the fact that our nation is in such need for intercession. It is time for healing and a return to a national perspective focused on the common good. We respond in prayer to tragedies and disasters that are amplified by broadcasts and viral social networks. Yet, do we pray for the tragedies that occur each moment of each day in each corner of our country? These are the tragedies and disasters we walk by and forget.
My prayer for our nation is that we stop forgetting.
I’m a bit late with this post. 2013 is well underway and all the glitter has (hopefully) been fully removed from your living room carpet. However, the beginning of a New Year offers an important opportunity for reflection.
I generally don’t do resolutions. I know many do, and that’s awesome. It could be that the list of resolutions I could or should write down are far too numerous for my comfort. I’d have to resolve to end late night trips to Super America (dressed in pajamas) to obtain pints of ice cream. Also, I’d likely need to resolve to cut back on my screen time on Facebook. I recently learned that I have written something like 43,000 words on the social networking addiction, more than most books.
I’d also have to resolve to finally write the book I’ve wanted to write for two decades.
Of course, there are other items of note. To go to church more frequently, order dessert less. Walk more, worry less. Laugh more, smoke less. Nap more, work less. You get the idea.
But, at the end of the day, I really only want one thing to happen in the year ahead. I want to live the most authentic life possible. To approach each day with great expectation. To place my friends and family first. To stop allowing past experiences surrounding relationships, trauma, trust and failures to occupy so much real estate in my head. To believe in me — as imperfect and full of potential as I truly am.
In that space, perhaps I can finally write a book or find more time to nap or walk. In that space of authenticity I might be able to have the confidence and perspective to take care of myself better. And maybe I’ll put pants on when I go shopping.
2012 was an amazing year for me. I’m so grateful for the many opportunities that came my way. And I wish you all a New Year full of authenticity, love and hope.