God Bless America

Image by Miriam Zilles from Pixabay

This morning I’m remembering the candlelight vigil in Mission Plaza Park on the night of 9/11 and the interfaith service that followed in Holy Cross Church. After the final hymn concluded, in the moment of silence after the organ notes faded but before the rustling of departure began, a single spontaneous voice began to sing “God Bless America.” A few others joined in, Sister Barbara promptly took it up on the organ, and then we were all singing. It has become a cliché since then, a requisite but routine badge of patriotism, as satisfying and thoughtfree as the seventh inning stretch and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but that night it was pure and heartfelt.

I want to reclaim that prayer for the land that I love, now threatened in so many more ways from within and without than it was even on that awful day.

Stand beside her, O Beloved, and guide her through the night – through this COVID-19 pandemic, our fight to end racism, wildfires burning from the mountains to the oceans white with foam. Shed your light from above to show us our common ground. God bless America.

Prayer in a Time of Fire

I hear your voice in my sweetheart’s lullaby.

Let’s share the moonlight, he sings

in the waltz time melody he wrote for me.

I hear your voice in the notes of his ukulele

and the whir of hummingbird wings,

bamboo fluttering in the breeze

and the silence of the butterfly’s flight.

 

But in these days of smoke and ashes

my ears yearn to hear you in the rain,

falling on leaves and roof,

sliding in rivulets down the windows.

Oh, won’t you pour into the eave-guarding gutters

And gurgle through the downspouts?

 

With chapped lips and a dry throat

I praise you

and raise my rough and calloused hands.

You soothe us now with our own tears,

but I implore you,

sweeten my song with freshwater,

let us fall asleep to your voice in the rainfall.

raindrops in a pool

Prayer for the Water

I wrote this prayer after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but thinking of the Standing Rock water protectors and remembering the importance Pope Francis placed on water in his encyclical Laudato Si, I offer this again today on behalf of the earth, our common home, wherever there is water pollution.

tuolomne river

O holy, mighty One,

open our hearts to compassion.

O Light of the world,

show us the way.

Mother of sorrows,

mingle your tears with ours.

Mother of mercy,

we are sorry.

Our Life, our Sweetness,

sweeten the poisoned waters.

Star of the Sea,

shine your brightness there.

You fishermen, Peter, James, and Andrew,

join our prayer:

may the waters give life once more.

St. Brendan the navigator,

guide the energy of our prayers

to the water that wants healing.

O sacred energy that hallows

the Ganges and Brigid’s well,

permeate the wounded water with your pure love.

All you whales and creatures of the sea,

forgive us,

pray with us.

Thanks be to the water,

our life, our sweetness,

hear our prayer.

A Prayer for the Water

I wrote this prayer after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but I offer it now for ocean closer to home, in Santa Barbara.

Refugio State Beach


 

O holy, mighty One,

open our hearts to compassion.

O Light of the world,

show us the way.

Mother of sorrows,

mingle your tears with ours.

Mother of mercy,

we are sorry.

Our Life, our Sweetness,

sweeten the poisoned waters.

Star of the sea,

shine your brightness there.

You fishermen, Peter, James, and Andrew,

join our prayer:

may the waters give life once more.

St. Brendan the navigator,

guide the energy of our prayers

to the water that wants healing.

O sacred energy that hallows

the Ganges and Brigid’s well,

permeate the wounded water with your pure love.

All you whales and creatures of the sea,

forgive us,

pray with us.

Thanks be to the water,

our Life, our Sweetness,

hear our prayer.