Do Words Get Tired? Third Annual Scholarship Contest Asks the Big Questions!
Has there ever been a time when language is more critical to our human condition and connection then now? Has there ever been a time when words have been more misused, over-used and manipulated then now? Prayer Soup came into being as a response to an atmosphere where the word “prayer” seemed to have lost meaning in exactly those particular ways. Since the beginning, we have been challenging people to rethink their understandings and experiences about prayer. We have framed “prayer” within the context of our human and universal need to find meaning, purpose and connection in our lives and to talk to and listen to the experiences of others. Our hypothesis was that we have far more similarities with others than differences in this process.
The Scholarship Essay Contest we sponsor each year has proven this theory to be true. Last year’s contest drew over 450 essays from high school seniors in 44 states from a wide variety of religious, spiritual, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. We asked them to write about their prayer experiences (rather than their beliefs) and to connect this with their thoughts and experiences with gun violence in schools.
This year we roll-out our 2019-2020 Scholarship with the words of a poem written by Pedro A. Sandin-Fremaint which asks:
Words get tired/Don’t they?
Sandin-Fremaint considers the word “god” for this question, but we would like to insert “prayer” for the purposes of our scholarship essay contest:
Take the word prayer/Uttered/With such contrary/And jarring intents/That it seems fatigued/ Useless/Worse yet banal.
We are asking high school seniors this year to write about their experience with prayer and to comment on whether it has joined the ranks of a “tired” and “useless” word?
We are asking: Is your experience with prayer suggesting that prayer is a product of your childhood and has no real value to you as you move into the complexities of adulthood? Or is it a powerful tool for good - for yourself, for others, and for the world?
Bishop Desmond Tutu described prayer as an “uprising”, and credited it, in part, with overcoming apartheid. What do you see as the impact, if any, of your own prayer experience as it relates to a significant issue of your life, such as school shootings, climate change, bullying, immigration, gender and class disparity, or emerging sexual mores? Do we need more than “words and prayers”, to influence these issues and to offer true solace to those affected, and to the divisions in our country at large? Or is there an actual power in prayer that, if accessed, could provide meaningful answers to these issues and could change the world?
Has there ever been a time when the answers to these questions are more critical to our human condition and connection then now?
If you are a high school senior planning on graduating in 2020, we invite you to enter our Third Annual Scholarship contest by submitting a written essay of 600-1200 words exploring these questions. The Rules for Submission are outlined in the Scholarship section of this website and can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the website page. Good luck!