Today We Pray
The message below went out on Monday, February 6 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Prayers can take different forms. They can be addressed to a deity, an idea, for guidance, or simply to express your thoughts or emotions.
Today, I hope that you will consider writing a prayer, meditation, or mantra of your own, to start off this week’s National Standing on the Side of Love Month theme: Spread the Love.
Click here to share your prayer/meditation.
The Standing on the Side of Love campaign will award the three most inspiring submissions a copy of “Thou Dear God: Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits,” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As an Atheist, this Daily Action was a challenge for me. Would my prayer be genuine? What exactly am I trying to do, writing a prayer? Can’t I just borrow some awesome Coldplay lyrics and call it a day?
No, I needed to do this. So, what would an Atheist’s prayer look like? First, I needed some inspiration.
Last year, my Fellowship started on a project that required a huge leap of faith. We began a Listening Campaign, with the intention of having hour-long, one-to-one conversations with as many people from our congregation as we could pin down. (Unitarian Universalists are busy people!)
A Listening Campaign is the basis for a community organizing model that is as grassroots as it is revolutionary in our culture: We would be cultivating a Social Justice Ministry without plans for action. Instead, we would get together with the people in our beloved community, and listen to them intentionally about the hopes, dreams, and concerns they have in their own lives. They told us how they found Unitarian Universalism, what it means to them to be a part of our Fellowship, what they wish for in their children’s lives, and what their aspirations and struggles are. We are just now wrapping up our campaign, and beginning to sift through the almost 100 hours worth of conversations that we have accumulated.
I was excited to take this on, but much like being a first-time parent, nobody could tell me how difficult or how deeply rewarding this work would be. It transformed me, inspired me, made me hopeful in a fractured world. If that doesn’t deserve prayer, I don’t know what does. Now, sure, we can call it a lot of things: meditation, devotion, chant, mantra. Maybe it doesn’t need a name; it can be the intentional, internal thoughts that we use to focus ourselves or envision the life we want to live, or to express our gratitude.
That said, I think I’m going to call it prayer.
Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, but that, to me, is the word that carries that particular feeling of setting intention, articulating aspirations, naming the secret wishes of the heart and the appreciation for good people and experiences in our lives. You should use whatever term speaks to you. Perhaps, like me, you don’t believe there is a higher power to hear your prayer. Don’t let that stop you from participating in this activity. You may find (as I did), that it has meaning and value.
This is my prayer:
Today I will consider what it is like for you.
With a spirit of curiosity, I will hold gently the moments that you give to me;
The stories, the longings, the regrets, the fears.
For your trust in me, I will be grateful.
I won’t be afraid to live with a heart broken wide open
by the tenderness of the moment
when a thread connects your heart to mine.
In writing this prayer, I reflected on my experience with our Listening Campaign, because it was an experience that has brought deep meaning to my life. There is a tremendous sense of connection and wonder to intentional listening. I have come to believe that it is the most important thing that any of us can do right now, in these times of fear, polarization, and instability. Listening is revolutionary; it is an act of compassion; it is the beginning of social justice. When you listen with an open mind and a genuine willingness to understand, people will surprise you. Every time. It is the most remarkable thing.
I invite you to write a prayer expressing the challenges you face, or your hopes for a better world.
Click here to share your prayer/meditation.
Be curious about how this practice challenges and inspires you.
Chairperson, Social Justice Ministry
Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
P.S. For help with writing words of worship, visit: http://www.uua.org/worship/words/meditations/index.shtml.