On March 24, 2020, as his hometown of New York City was beginning its lockdown due to COVID-19, Micah Bucey was prompted to write a prayer. The playwright Terrence McNally had died of coronavirus-related complications. Wanting to celebrate his life and aware of the grief and anxiety gripping the world, he wrote a "tiny prayer" of 23 words and posted it on social media.
In the days that followed Bucey wrote prayers for health care workers, faith leaders, artists, elected officials, and others. A collection of daily meditations emerged. His practice became to start each day checking the news and checking in with his own body and feelings. He then chose one issue to focus on. He didn't try to take on the world -- just one piece of it.
Meanwhile, we at Spirituality & Practice were creating our own collection of Spiritual Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic, and we recognized how special Bucey's prayers were for our times. Micah Bucey is a film reviewer for S&P, and so we asked him if we could use his prayers in our "Praying the News Blog." His tiny prayers were posted on the website every day for a year until March 24, 2021, when he decided to continue the prayers on a less frequent basis.
What makes these prayers -- each only a paragraph long -- so special and so powerful is that Micah Bucey is spiritually literate -- able to read the signs that point to the active presence of Spirit within and around us. In the book's introduction, he notes:
"Every encounter we have in our daily lives, everything we read about in our newsfeeds, every everyday example of interdependence, of inspiration, even of evil, can be reframed as a sign of the times in which we live and a sign pointing us toward potential futures. These signs are all around us, even in the best of times, and they demand continuing participation, sincere contemplation, and constant transformation. Even as the acute threat of one plague ends, our world remains vulnerable to other plagues that need our attention and intention. It is my belief that these plagues (the continuing lies and violence of racism, classism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, white supremacy, Christian supremacy, colonialism, speciesism, extractivism, predatory capitalism, and their countless other insidious siblings) are spiritual issues that need spiritual alternatives. And that is what prayer can offer."
The variety of tiny prayers here reflect the complexity of our times and the challenges people are facing. There are prayer tributes to artists (Ellis Marsalis Jr., John Prine, Cicely Tyson), leaders (John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Pope Francis), martyrs (George Perry Floyd Jr.. Breonna Taylor, Anthony Huber), and groups (trans, gender nonconforming, nonbinary folk, essential workers, students, farm workers, immigrants, parents and teachers). There are laments for things lost (people facing unemployment, those who have no shelter, those graduating remotely). There are acknowledgments of difficult and confusing feelings (anger, cabin fever, loneliness, drained, messy, stuck, disappointed). There are gratitude prayers (those who are listening, those who are waking up, the U.S. Postal Service, vaccines.)
Reading these prayers in sequence, you will be reminded of the ups and downs of the first year of the pandemic. You may also try just opening the book to any prayer; you will likely be surprised with how much you identify with the range of emotions and experiences covered. The day I read "For those who can't remember what day it is" (see excerpt), I laughed because I couldn't myself! "For those who could do something nice for themselves" came to me at a time when I was approaching complete burnout. And the tiny prayer "For those who are looking for a sign" with the suggestion "may the attention you give oft-overlooked wonders keep you seeking, even when you don't immediately see the everyday revelations unfolding right in front of you" has proven over the days and months since I first read it to be life-transforming advice.
Prayer is personal, and Bucey's tiny prayers often express individual feelings. But prayer can also have a communal intention. It can can name and show us how we can collectively co-create new paths to freedom and spiritual maturity. As you read each prayer, you will notice a shift from a concrete concern to a more universal one. The prayer thus becomes an opening to a larger engagement with what is happening in our world.
The Book of Tiny Prayer is above all an invitation. Perhaps that's why each prayer begins with the words "may you." You are invited to step into these prayers and then to create your ways to engage with where you are and the reality around you.
May your heartfelt desires, reflected and sparked by these tiny prayers, be avenues of connection to your community, our world, and the whole Creation.
Spirituality & Practice visitors can get 30% off the purchase price of the book when buying directly from the publisher here: https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823299225/the-book-of-tiny-prayer/
On the payment page, use the discount code POWEROFPRAYER30.