Shuck and Jive

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan and Prayer

I have been checking in on news reports from Japan. The news is confusing regarding the nuclear reactors. It is hard to know, and it seems engineers at the sites aren't sure what is happening inside the cores of the reactors. It does appear that we are not looking at a "Chernobyl-style" disaster taking place. Still we watch.

I see videos posted about the tsunami washing away cars and buildings. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people have lost their lives. Tens of thousands more will have lost their livelihoods.

In various places on the web, many offer prayers. Others criticize praying to non-existent supernatural beings as a wasted effort. I stay out of those arguments.

There are places to give.

I am sure there are many other places you could find that will do important work now and in the future.

Back to prayer.

I don't believe in the existence of supernatural beings including "God". I don't think "God" caused or causes things, intervenes, or decides not to intervene. Nature is what Nature does. We are Nature. I do think when we speak of "God" or to "God" or through "God" we are expressing the deepest part of ourselves.

I have no argument regarding this with anyone.

I do know I need to express some of the anguish and hope and compassionate connection I feel with the people of Japan. In so doing, I often fall back by default on the language I know from my faith tradition. We use the language available to us. Here are some of those types of prayers from my tradition.

A lot of that language doesn't work for me even as I can appreciate those for whom that language is helpful. As a pastor, I encourage people to use what language "works" for them. I wish I knew more "secular" ways to pray, but I don't really.

I trust poets when I find them.

Mostly I pray in sacred silence.

An English professor when I was an undergrad at the (very secular) University of Washington said that prayer is this:

when someone crosses your mind, you stop what you are thinking and doing, and take a moment to wish them well.
I can do that.

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