Too beautiful for war

 

 

Two prayers by Simon Bailey – written from a teenage perspective – expressing distress at the ongoing threat of nuclear war and violence and recognising the comfort that comes when we bring our fears to God who is “warm enough to take all [our] shivers away”.

 

#1

They say we can destroy the world
twenty times over with nuclear bombs –
it’s probably more by now.
I see those pictures of the mushroom cloud
and I shiver –
the world is too beautiful for that,
people are too beautiful.
Father, it’s so wrong – and so frightening.

Jesus told us to love our enemies –
I don’t think you can love your enemies with a bomb.
It’s such a mess but somehow, somewhere
we have to turn round and really say:
‘We want to live in peace together.’

So send your Spirit to remind our leaders
how beautiful things are,
how beautiful their ‘enemies’ are,
to remind them to keep telling themselves:
‘We want to live in peace together.’

 
by Simon Bailey
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #1001
 


#2

There were wars and riots on the news tonight,
Father, and now I’m very frightened –
bombs and killings and rows don’t seem too bad
in the daylight, but it’s dark now …
I don’t let other people know I’m frightened
of the dark but I am.
I’m scared of lots of things –
evil spirits and heights, being beaten up,
of pain and dying,
and even looking silly in front of my friends.
Now I’m scared of going to sleep in case I dream.

Be near me,
Be a warm presence round me
and a light inside me.

You know what it’s like to be very scared,
so you can help me now.
I’m nearly shivering with fright,
so help me to know you are in charge,
you know what darkness is,
you are brighter than the darkness
and warm enough to take all my shivers away.

 
by Simon Bailey from Still with God, p. 36
referenced in How to Pray: Alone, with Others, at Any Time, in Any Place by Steven Cottrell
 


Church of Scotland at prayer

Together we pray
Each week, from late September until late November, new prayers written by people from across the Church of Scotland and our partners will be shared on the Church of Scotland website.

This week’s prayer for radical change, written by Doug Gay
 


From the blog
Consolation joy
Wild hope #1
Theme: Do not lose heart [prayer sheet]
 

imagine … no war …

 

(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

A prayer

We dare to imagine a world
      where hunger has no chance to show its face.

We dare to dream of a world
      where war and terror are afraid to leave their mark.

We long to believe in a world of hope unchained
      and lives unfettered.

We dare to share in the creation of a world
      where your people break free.

Dare we open our minds to difference?
Dare we open our lives to change?

Your kingdom come, O God.
Your will be done.
Amen.

 
from the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, U.K.
Posted on re:worship
 


 
From the blog
Guest post: War and peace
Worthy of trust
Theme: Spurred on by prayer [prayer sheet]

A healing blessing


The Shepherd (1930) by Arturo Martini  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 
 

An unusually short blessing from Jan Richardson. She calls it “a [healing] blessing small enough to carry in the hand or in the heart”.

 

And All Be Made Well

A Healing Blessing

That each ill
be released from you
and each sorrow
be shed from you
and each pain
be made comfort for you
and each wound
be made whole in you

that joy will
arise in you
and strength will
take hold of you
and hope will
take wing for you
and all be made well.

 
by Jan Richardson, from paintedprayerbook.com
 


 
TIP
Check out Jan Richardson’s online Advent retreat, Illuminated 2019, now open for registration.
 


 
From the blog
Balm to heal the world
Worthy of trust
Fearfully and wonderfully made
 

Healed from the inside out


Rome  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 

I recently bought a book of poetry by Bonnie Thurston called, Practicing Silence, and have been dipping into it as a kind of spiritual practice. You have to slow down and savour the words. You can’t rush it.

Here’s the poem that inspired this month’s theme, “Healing”.


Inside out

On the face of it
all appears well,
but mostly wounds
are deep beyond reckoning.
As in surgery
the surface heals,
but in subcutaneous depths
resides an awful, jagged maw
into which one
must eventually walk,
sit down, wait for what
only waiting accomplishes:
victory over restlessness
conquering the urge to control;
acceptance of utter helplessness
inviting help’s arrival.
We are all healed
in passive voice
and from the inside out.

 
~ by Bonnie Thurston, from Practicing Silence: New and Selected Verses, p. 74
 


 
From the blog
The Spirit does wonders
Testing ground
In the school of prayer with Anselm
 

On pilgrimage


From my book shelf  …  links included below
 
 

Quotable quotes and a prayer from the To be a pilgrim workshop I led in Geneva recently.

 

People of all faiths seem to recognize pilgrimage as an essential spiritual practice. In researching WHY this should be the case, there seems to be very little complex theological reasoning involved. Pilgrimage, it seems … has to be walked, and experienced.
 
Some walk to escape, others walk towards. Some walk in companionship, others alone. Some always have an eye on a destination, others live for a far horizon. … We are all of us, sojourners. A long way from home.

 

For pilgrimage to be real it has to be a moving experience in more than simply a physical sense. … We do not merely clock up places we have been to and sights we have seen: we are also on a journey of being, an inward journey which cannot be easily catalogued or grasped but is a great adventure nonetheless.
~ David Adam, The Awesome Journey, p. 1

 

We recognise that we journey in hope; our travelling will be accompanied and celebratory; we pilgrim to Christ and to redemption in him; we will challenge each other in our discipleship and spiritual nurturing to press on with perseverance; we will learn from the wisdom of brothers and sisters down the ages and across all human divides.

 

On the journey of faith
Far I have come, far I must go.

 


A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Christ our Guide,
stay with us on our pilgrimage through life:
      when we falter, encourage us
      when we stumble, steady us
      and when we have fallen, pick us up.
Help us to become, step by step,
      more truly ourselves,
and remind us
      that you have travelled this way before us.
Amen

 
~ by Angela Ashwin, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers, #167
 


 
Book list
Finding our way again  by Brian McLaren
We make the road by walking  by Brian D. McLaren
A Pilgrim Way  by Ray Simpson
Pilgrimage of a soul  by Phileena Heuertz
The Awesome Journey  by David Adam
Ancient Paths  by David Robinson

Turn, pilgrim


Shop front, Edinburgh  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

A prayer inspired by an eighth-century Abbess of Clonbroney in Ireland, Samthann, renowned for her prayer and wisdom.

 


A prayer

 
My journey will not bring me
any nearer to You,
unless at each turning
is a turning of the heart.

And the true heart turns to You.

The Kingdom of Heaven
is not far from anyone:
its secrets open
to an open heart.

When I turn,
I turn to You.

Wherever I go,
You are near.

 
from  Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two, p. 1132
 


 
From the blog
Sabbath rest
Theme: Sharing in Jesus’ ministry
Dust and transformation
 

To be a pilgrim


In a village just outside Geneva  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

I was in Geneva recently to conduct a workshop on the theme, To be a pilgrim.

We reflected on our life journey thus far and what it means to be a follower of the Way (the name given to the early Christians). We also shared the pilgrim songs that lift our spirits, got creative in pilgrim expressions, like writing haikus and short short stories, and made time for pilgrim prayers.

 
Here is a prayer from our opening devotions:

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

When we feel alone, when we feel rejected
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
When we feel drained and dried up, and we can’t give any more,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
When we are unsure of how to move or where to go or what to do,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Come, Holy Spirit, revive us, move in us,
and encourage us on the journey of faith.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Amen!

~ written by Rev. Mindi, and posted on Rev-o-lution.
 


 
From the blog
People of the way
3 Prayers for refugees
Light on my path
 


 

If you’d like to know more about the To be a pilgrim workshop, do get in touch.