I spent the better part of the last 35 years advocating for social justice. I’ve participated in more marches and rallies than I can count. But I’m having to sit out this current call to action. It is not that I feel any less passionate about the fact that Black Lives do indeed Matter, or that the sin of racism has infected our society for far too long. Between mobility issues and having multiple health challenges that put me at high risk for COVID, I have to recognize that I need to find a new way to help bend the arc of justice.
My passion for social justice has always come from the spiritual and religious teachings which have inspired my life. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, when marching with Martin Luther King, “I was praying with my feet.” What do you do when you can no longer pray with your feet? When you cannot, like Isaiah or Jesus or Muhammed, protect the oppressed with your own body?
We can engage in a quieter, even silent, activism. Prayer has fallen out of fashion, and has become associated (for many) with traditions which have become stale and lifeless. But quantum physics as well as research in some of the preeminent medical schools have shown that our thoughts and words have power. The setting of an intention, the voicing of affirmation, we often use different words but they all come back to prayer. What is a prayer, other than voicing our hopes and concerns to the ineffable Source of Being? And how much more powerful, when our collective intentions are amplified?
I’d like to invite you to join me in a particular form of prayer, with a new twist. A novena is a prayer form that originated in the Catholic church, which sets the intention to pray every day for 9 days, dedicated to a singular intention. Starting on this Thursday, June 11 and continuing until Saturday night, June 20th, let us set the intention of healing and compassion. Healing of oppression and racism. Healing of bodies, from COVID. Healing of our society, infected with divisiveness. Compassion for those who have not known they were participating in systemic racism. Compassion for those who are suffering financially in this time of disruption. Compassion for all who have lost loved ones to the violence and disease which afflict our communities at this time. Compassion for ourselves, that we are all trying to become our best selves.
Saturday the 20th is the new moon and Summer Solstice. The new moon is dark; a luminous darkness which portends new beginnings. Carrying this prayer, this intention, into the time of new beginnings, is itself a special kind of hope. We have yet to know what our “new normal” will be. We are seeing glimpses of it, in the awakenings of white neighbors and the dismantling of systemic racism. But there is much yet to learn, do and heal. We are birthing a new way of being, with one another and with ourselves, in the aftermath of COVID. There are still wisdoms we can draw on from the old ways, but we are invited to breathe new life into them, as well as devise new ways of connecting with All that Is.
If you are ready to envision a hopeful future, you can go to our Inclusive Prayer page and choose any of the selections there, or simply speak the words of your heart. If you still take comfort in older forms, use the prayers which bring you comfort. Or if the healing light of Reiki, or other silent meditations inspire you, that too is a prayer. Set a time each day when you will infuse your prayers with healing and compassion. Pray each day from June 11th – 20th. I invite you to share your reflections on the Shelter For The Spirit Facebook page. And if you would like to share in a sense of completion for this journey, join me on Zoom, Saturday June 20th at 2:30 pm PDT (solstice), for an Interfaith Virtual Labyrinth Walk. (Watch for details on registering, to follow, on our Events page and our Facebook page.)