According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), as of this writing in 2019 there are 68.5 million people displaced by war and violent conflict. Our human minds and hearts are not equipped to comprehend suffering on this scale. We can, however, hear human voices one at a time, and we can empathize with images that tap into our personal comprehension of suffering.
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on April 8, 2019
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on March 15, 2019
On March 15, 2019, we awoke to news of 49 killed and dozens injured in shooting attacks at mosques in New Zealand, which had long been considered a haven from such violence. After shock and sorrow, our immediate desire was to bring light, love, and healing to these tragic circumstances. Here are some ways to help; you can also sign this Groundswell petition to send love and solidarity to the Muslim families of New Zealand.
At such times prayers bring consolation and guidance, too. We asked Habib Todd Boerger, a 2018-19 Fellow with the Practicing Democracy Project, if he would compose a dua — a Muslim petitionary prayer — for the victims. He sent the following heartfelt response, for which we are deeply grateful.
And so we pray this news ...
Beloved Lord, Beloved God,
Here we are Lord, before you, with our hearts hurting, as yet more senseless acts of violence have taken the lives of many, and the pain of their loss ripples through their families, loved ones, communities, and across the world.
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on November 16, 2018
As of this writing on November 16, 2018, the death toll from California's Camp Fire has risen to 63 — making it the deadliest wildfire in California history — and the list of the missing contains 631 names. It is the worst of the fires currently ravaging California, but the Woolsey Fire in Malibu and nearby areas has burned nearly 100,000 acres and hundreds of houses; the Hill Fire in Ventura County, more than 4,500 acres.
Pictures of people and animals fleeing the fires are heartbreaking; the thought of those who couldn't get away is even more so. California Governor Jerry Brown observed that "we’re in a new abnormal, and things — things like this will be part of our future. And this won’t be the beginning. It’ll be things like this and worse."
Posted by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on October 29, 2018
Upon hearing the heartwrenching and horrifying news of the shooting assault on the Tree of Life Jewish congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we asked Rabbi Ted Falcon of the Interfaith Amigos for a response. He immediately wrote back to share his reflections with us.
And so we pray this news ...
Blessing always calls us to the immediacy of the present moment; it is an invitation to mindfulness. In the case of hearing terrible news, we are invited to share blessing in this form:
“Blessed are You,
Eternal One our God,
the True Judge.”
Something bringing pain and suffering has occurred that is outside of our control, and we are asked to be fully present to that pain with energies of blessing.
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on October 11, 2018
Image credit: Hurricane Michael on October 9, 2018, from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
As of this writing in October 2018, we're facing into the devastation of the third strongest storm ever to hit the United States: Hurricane Michael, with sustained winds of 155 mph and unusually low central pressure. At least two people are dead, thousands lack power, and we're only beginning to assess the ravages to homes and businesses.
Meanwhile, the Weather Channel reports "Waterlogged Carolinas Brace for Flash Flooding, Possible Widespread Power Outages" as Michael heads north into areas that have not yet begun to recover from September's Hurricane Florence, which brought storm surges and heavy coastal and inland flooding. And the Indonesian island of Sulawesi will be reeling for years after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on September 28 left more than 2,000 confirmed dead, with as many as 5,000 more still missing. And a year after Hurricane Maria, we are still asking whether Puerto Rico can recover.
Posted by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on October 2, 2018
On Friday, September 28, 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia, triggering a tsunami with waves up to 10 feet high. Water toppled and swept away buildings in the coastal city of Palu, home to 350,000 people, on the island of Sulawesi.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has deployed a local team to the area and is conducting an assessment of medical and humanitarian needs in coordination with the Indonesian national response mechanism. The team is composed of medical, logistics, and water and sanitation specialists.
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on May 29, 2018
What we do in emergency situations speaks volumes about who we are, as 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama's courage and quick reflexes show. Upon seeing a child dangling from a fifth-storey Paris apartment balcony last Saturday (May 26, 2018), he scaled the building Spiderman-style and deftly hoisted the four-year-old to safety. Gassama's strength and flexibility alone were astonishing, but it is his complete lack of hesitation to come to the child's aid that earned him a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. President Macron offered Gassama a gold medal for "courage and devotion," French citizenship, and a job as a firefighter.
“I ran. I crossed the street to save him,” Gassama, from Mali, told Macron. “When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.” He says God helped him, and adds “Thank God I saved him.”
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on May 16, 2018
May 15, 2018 was the 70th anniversary of Yawm an-Nakba, which translates from Arabic as "Day of the Catastrophe." It commemorates the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland when the state of Israel was established during the 1948 Palestine war.
Seventy years later, Yawm an-Nakba has taken on new sorrow and significance after violence at the border fence between Gaza and Israel on Monday left 60 Palestinian protesters dead and doctors struggling to keep up with the tide of Palestinians suffering gunshot wounds. Tensions had been building for many days leading up to the official relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which had a celebratory air in ghastly contrast with deadly events along the border.
Although the U.S. staunchly defended the actions of Israeli troops, international condemnation was strong and swift. UN Secretary-General António Guterres was "profoundly alarmed" by the killings. The International non-profit organization Doctors without Borders stated that the violence was "unacceptable and inhuman," and that "it is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time." Queen Rania of Jordan, a close U.S. ally, tweeted that it was "a dark and sad day in history, marked with more Palestinian sacrifices. When will the world's conscience mobilize to give Palestinians the rights so many of us take for granted? May God have mercy on those who lost their lives defending Jerusalem's proud Arab identity."
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on May 15, 2018
Visions for a more just and compassionate world can take decades to come to fruition. We now have the soul-stirring opportunity to be part of Dr. Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign, inaugurated in 1968, as it takes on new life in 2018. “We don’t need a commemoration, we need a reconsecration,” proclaims Reverend Dr. William Barber, a pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, an articulate and charismatic leader in the contemporary civil-rights movement. (You can learn more about Barber's role in the campaign, together with Reverend Liz Theoharis from New York's Union Theological Seminary, in the May 14th issue of The New Yorker.)
Started on Mother's Day 2018 and continuing 40 days until June 23 — the last day of the 1968 effort — the revived Poor People's Campaign calls people to protest policies that perpetuate poverty, systemic racism, war, and ecological devastation. Across the United States, concerned citizens grounded in an ethic of love are mobilizing others, engaging in civil disobedience, and using social media to spread the word.
Posted by Patricia Campbell Carlson on March 14, 2018
When a school shooting happens, there is usually one lone shooter. By contrast, the steady response to school shootings — recently given yet another boost of fervent energy by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — has been a chorus of many thousands, united in grief, concern, and outrage.
Today, March 14, 2018, marks the one-month anniversary of the shooting that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and students all over the United States marched out of their schools to honor those who died. At the same time, activists have placed 7,000 empty pairs of shoes on the Capitol lawn, an impossible-to-ignore symbol of the children lost to gun violence.
Moved by the powerful voices of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, we offer some of their words here as a prayer: not one of beseeching, but one of courage and commitment. These are young people who care passionately about the well-being and safety not only of their own community but of communities everywhere, and their words imbue us with strength.
About This Blog
The daily news summons us to prayer. The people, situations, and events of our times call out for our compassion and God's healing presence. In this blog we will pray in a variety of forms as we lift up the needs of the world. We hope that by praying the news in this way we will also expand both our spirituality and our practice. More