Prayer for Wednesday, the Week After Holy Week

The day after
the day after
the day after Easter
is still
Easter.

We have seen the stone
moved away.
Fled in terror.
Fast forwarded to the
present moments’
pastel joys and
vivid sorrows.

Most merciful and loving God

We beg to remain joyful, to
stand still awed, to
stand still in our own fear and trembling.

We pray today for nuclear negotiations
feckless politicians
drought conditions.

We lift up educational testing and
students who dream of learning and
those who don’t know how.

We grieve those who pass from
our earthly world unto yours.
We grieve their absence and our longing.

We rejoice with music on the radio
strings and brass and pipes or
lyrics that we know.

We rejoice with baseball games, dear God, and
long glorious sunsets
ephemeral spring flowers
small green leaves on trees.

We rejoice with soft voices,
tucking our children tenderly
beneath light covers
in the deep quiet of darkness.

Near and distant God,

we pray today for the
students of Garissa, for
those who died and
those who live on.

We rejoice for Anthony Ray Hinton
as we face the shame of our efforts meant to kill him.
We are thankful
this man was spared.

In this Easter season,
we know that you, God, are everywhere among us,
we are reminded that we see you and must seek you especially
among the least of these.

We pray for the memory of Jesus Christ,
shot in the back.
Jesus Christ, also known as
Walter L. Scott
formerly of North Charleston, South Carolina.

We pray for the memory of Jesus Christ, also known as
Rodney Todd
and his 7 children aged 6-15
Cameron
ZhiHeem
Tyjuziana
Tykeria
TyNijuzia
TyNiah
TyBregia

In this Easter season, dear God,
we pray for the people of
Aleppo, Ayotzinapa, and Aden.
We pray for Muslims and Jews and Christians
in Israel and Palestine.
We pray for
peace
justice
mercy
food, shelter, safety
medical care
books
pencils
laughter.

God of love and light
God of mercy and justice
God of yesterday and tomorrow
God of this moment
this moment of Easter

We lift our hearts unto you and
raise a loud

Amen.

 

 

 

 

For Timbuktu

Religious thugs destroy ancient Sufi texts.
Centuries of prayers up in flames.
A millennium of scholars’ ghosts gasp
at such senseless loss.

I hope the scoundrels breathed the smoke,
that fragments of blessings
blossom in their lungs.
Poetry leaks into their blood.
Infected by art.
Septic with learning.
Culture convulses the body.
So they weep text
given by God.

A Postscript
I first heard of the city of Timbuktu when I was little and reading the Disney’s “The Aristocats”. In that story, bad-guy Edgar the butler attempts to send the feline protagonists to Timbuktu, but instead gets mailed there himself (does that need a spoiler alert?).

As a kid, I figured Timbuktu must be the farthest, most exotic place imaginable for it to have played such a role in the story. The presence of Edgar notwithstanding, I wanted to go there. As an adult who has learned of its incredible history and cultural richness, I still do. Unfortunately (especially for its inhabitants), it remains a risky place to travel because of a continuing jihadist threat.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago after reports surfaced of fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb destroying ancient texts in Timbuktu. The joyful epilogue is that the careful and quiet work of local scholars such as Dr. Abdul Kader Haidara actually saved many of Timbuktu’s manuscript treasures – and today restoration and preservation efforts continue anew. More of that story can be found in this PBS Newshour story: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/rescuing-the-priceless-manuscripts-of-timbuktu/ and this Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/23/book-rustlers-timbuktu-mali-ancient-manuscripts-saved

This poem came to mind in the last couple of weeks as news surfaced of the Islamic State’s destruction of ancient cultural artifacts in the cities of Ninevah, Nimrud, and Hatra. It’s an incalculable loss and permanent tragedy for the people of Iraq and for the citizens of the globe. City Metric has a good article with more details – http://www.citymetric.com/skylines/isis-bulldozing-some-worlds-first-cities-here-s-what-were-losing-840

I offer this poem and my prayers today to  in the same spirit that I did to Timbuktu in January 2013.