On November 8, 2016, the United States presidential election results in a surprising and shocking outcome: Donald Trump won enough states to give him a likely Electoral College victory, although his opponent, Hillary Clinton, received more of the popular vote. Later that week, our community, Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, hosted its annual Festival, welcoming thousands of happy guests to the campus.

This prayer, adapted from one offered on Sunday, November 13, at Pilgrim Place, references both the Festival and the election. It also acknowledges another major event of the week, the death of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen at age 82. For decades, Cohen's songs chronicled the challenges of our times with a mix of poetic expression, unusual imagery, astute observations, and spiritual depth. This prayer is a mashup of Cohen song titles (in all caps) and lyrics. (Visit this page to see Cohen's performances of some of these masterpieces.)

And so we pray this news . . .

Beloved inspiration of our Hallelujahs,

Thank you for opportunities to draw closer together
in challenging times.

Let us open the gates.
One by one, the guests arrive.
THE GUESTS are coming through
The open-hearted many
The broken-hearted few
The SUZANNEs wearing rags and feathers,
The STRANGER like some Joseph looking for a manger.
The man like a BIRD ON THE WIRE trying to be free.

May we show our guests that THERE AIN'T NO CURE FOR LOVE
and invite them to DANCE UNTIL THE END OF LOVE

Yet even as we host our guests, many of us have heavy hearts.

EVERYBODY KNOWS knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you

And yet (from ANTHEM):

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
COME HEALING of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb.


Photo credit: By Rama - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr

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