The Tracks of Our Tears
Are you one of the millions who have prayed in response to the recent mass shooting in Orlando? Did it help?Here's my worry: that once we've said our prayers, we think we're off the hook. Praying is easy and, let's face it, when we do it, we are usually asking Someone Else to do the heavy lifting.
Prayer Soup was created in part from the discussions that followed the terrorist shootings in San Bernadino. I notice then that the traditional pleas for "moments of silence" and to "pray for the victims" were now being met with resistance and frustration. The now famous headline from the NY Daily News - "God Isn't Fixing This"- and a refusal by some politicians to stand silent or pray with their colleagues, reflected a new cry of protest and doubt about prayer. "Why not just release unicorns into the sky?", someone posted on Facebook after Orlando.
This is the basic question of Prayer Soup: Why prayer? What does it do? In addition to loss and sorrow during these times, there is a helplessness deep in our bones that can knock the wind out of us. I think praying for others is something we do in order to make ourselves feel better, to relieve our sense of hopelessness.
It's a start.
It's not enough.
Praying does not relieve us of having to do something else.
My niece from Orlando wrote, "There is so much love here", and sent the familiar pictures of people holding hands and candles, bowing heads and hugging each other downtown. There is activism here, in our doing and our being. We see love in action, love as a verb.
Let's make prayer a verb. Let's stay on our knees and follow the prayers we say for others with a deeper look at our own biases and an exploration into our daily lapses in compassion and tolerance. And when we get up, off the mat or out of the pew, let's continue to prayer in our everyday living - not just when there is tragedy; not just when we are in pain. Whatever it is you believe in, whatever it is you connect with when you pray, take it with you when you walk out the door. Anything else makes a mockery of it.