It is not about fretting, bitching, sniveling
kvetching, whining or whimpering . . .

It is not about aches and pains,
maladies, discomfortures,
irritants, annoyances, fits of pique,
backbiting, perturbations, provocations,
or digestive disappointments . . .

It is not about the host of things
we count as the afflictions of our decrepitude
and for which we manufacture
our paroxysms of complaint.

It is about the deeper level of living
the one rooted in the earth's groaning
for its very life and being . . .

The one that throbs in the pit of your stomach
with an instrument of stone
that settles into the grey marrow of your bones
and tutors you in the literal meaning
of the ache of a beating heart.

It is the birthplace of keening, the cry that is not
dainty or trickling dripping easiness,
but deep powerful wails of knowing
that cannot be contained, that reach up and out
and long to be met by something,
anything, that speaks to the pain
that we know exists not just within us,
but beyond us, that knits us together in

a suffering heard all over the world
in sighs too deep for words,
one that connects us to a Truth perhaps too
terrible to look at or contemplate alone.

And so we come together, and ask might not
this bitter cup pass from humankind, and if not,
is there a wisdom that could fall on our heads
like anointed oil,
could a peace that passes all understanding
take up residence within us —

For truly we see through a glass darkly
and fearfully and longingly
this day
And the best we can confess to you
is that we stand ready this hour
to be open to your Spirit
moving in, around, and through us.

Every morning now is mercy.
Every day now is mercy.
Help us in this hour to celebrate
a day of peace and more to come
For all the people of the earth. . . .

Abigail Hastings in Call to Worship, Judson Memorial Church, New York City, at the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War, March 2003