Courage, Compassion, Commitment

Name Beyond All Names,
Spirit of Love and Life,
Eternal Presence,
Great Mystery,
Dear God...

In prayer, our hearts open to all who suffer
in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon:
a beautiful celebration of the human spirit,
a gathering of people and nations from around the globe,
turned to tragedy, explosions, and loss.

Continually these past days—
on television and computer screens and in newspapers—
we have seen the billowing smoke, the fallen runners, the confusion of the crowd, bystanders leaping over barriers to respond.
On the radio we have heard confused shouts of runners and first responders, shaken voices of shocked announcers,
heartfelt words from government officials struggling to lead
even as they try to understand what has happened.

We have spoken to friends and family—
in disbelief, in anger, in grief—
holding one another close by telephone and text.
On social media we have glimpsed
the thousands and millions indirectly impacted,
whose suffering is smaller but no less real.
We are confused, hurt. We cannot make sense of it.
We stand awestruck before the profane and the mysterious.

Spirit of Life and Love,
Weaver of the Sacred Web of Life, Death, and Renewal:
Even as we have witnessed death and injury,
to people,
to our sense of self-assurance,
and to any belief in our own safety as a individuals and a nation,
we have also seen the crisis strip away all that divides us.

That first day,
we watched ordinary people carry strangers to ambulances,
saw Bostonians open their homes to people from around the world,
saw waves of spontaneously organized relief pour in,
reminding us of the common humanity we all share,
of all that unites us amidst the illusion of separation.
We have seen, we have remembered, that life ever renews itself.
Life renewed itself on that day and it renews itself even now,
as people reach out to one another across neighborhoods, across oceans,
searching for ways to respond in love and care.

Eternal Love,
Sacred Web of Life, Death, and Renewal:
We pray for the people most directly affected,
the families of those who have died, those who linger in critical condition,
those who worry for or who have lost loved ones.
We pray for those heroes of the day who now huddle alone,
experiencing their own secondary trauma as they try to go back ordinary life.
We pray for politicians and social leaders,
that their sense of violation
and their desire to stand strong for the victims not interfere with their better angels; we pray that our political leaders act with wisdom,
with compassion, and with focus on the longer view.
We pray for already marginalized communities,
that they not become victims of retaliation for the acts of unwell individuals.
And we pray for those perpetrators,
that they might know some respite from their inner turmoil,
and come to know the ways of peace and compassion.

We pray for ourselves,
that our hearts might awaken in solidarity
with others who face a tragedy we cannot comprehend,
but that they must live through.

May we open ourselves to people and to beings nearby us and far away
who are in pain.
May we notice the suffering in our own community,
the interdependent web that links us to all suffering,
and turn not away from but toward suffering, so that we too,
like the heroes of that day,
leap over barriers that could have divided us…
meeting the brokenness in our world with
courage, and compassion, and commitment to do our part.

Spirit of Love,
Interdependent Web of Life, Death, and Renewal:
We pray, too, for our own, more personal struggles,
which still matter, even though others always face greater challenges than ours.
We pray for any among us who have not yet discovered
our own power to bless the world.
We pray to find the courage and grace
to move one step closer to healing, and to the sacred potential of our lives.
We pray for strength, grateful for all that is not lost,
for the ever-renewing powers of life,
for our chance to play our part in this life
we have been given to share with one another.
And we join in this time of quiet, this moment of silence,
in which we lift up the silent meditations of our hearts.
— Revs. John and Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, Boston MA 4/16/2013