On July 4th, the United States of America celebrated its 240th year of independence from Great Britain. My ancestors were enslaved until 1863. Unfortunately, the Emancipation Proclamation did not instantly guarantee African-Americans freedom. Still it was undeniably, an important and necessary step in the long, hard journey for liberation and equality. While African-Americans have made great strides, there is much more work this country has to do for racial justice.
The day after our country celebrated 240 years of independence, an African-American man, Alton Sterling, was unjustly killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA. On July 6th, another African-American man, Philando Castile, was unjustly killed by a police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota. On July 7th, five Dallas police officers were unjustly murdered by an African-American military veteran in retaliation to the killings of the previously mentioned men.
After marching and attending vigils following other acts of violence, I decided to do something different. This time I needed to pray. The spiritual practice of prayer was the only action I believed could help me with my feelings of anger and grief. Instead of praying alone, I reached out to beloved Interfaith ministers to create a space where people who needed or wanted to offer prayer could give and receive it.
Friday, July 8th, I posted an announcement on social media for an Interfaith prayer call to be held on Sunday, July 10th. To my surprise, more than 60 people dialed in from different parts of the country. Seven Interfaith ministers agreed to set the tone at the beginning of our call. We began by pouring libations for our ancestors in the Yoruba language. Next someone called in the Four Directions through Lakota song. Several more clergy said prayers from Pentecostal, Islam, New Thought, Judaism, Rastafari and spiritual perspectives. When we opened up the space for others who had called in, we were blessed to hear poems, songs, readings, as well as Buddhist, Japanese and Sanskrit prayers. The following poems and prayers were offered during and after our call. May they provide sustenance and healing support to those who need it.
Rev. Laura West – One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
May this time of violence and troubled hearts be over soon.
May tolerance, equanimity, peace and loving kindness prevail.
May the world find its resting place in balance and harmony.
May our children and children’s children live in a happier world.
Rev. Ingrid L. Scott, BCoG – One Spirit Interfaith Seminary & New York Theological Seminary D.Min Candidate
Divine Beloved, Infinite Creator, Source of All that is.
As we consciously come into your presence at this time, we ask that your infinite love which resides in the hearts of all mankind awaken to the truth that we are one, that we are love and that we belong to each other!
We pray for the Black lives that have been taken before their time. Our hearts go out to their families. May they be comforted in their grief and sorrow. May they forgive the perpetrators of these crimes.
Let us pray to heal the atmosphere of fear and trepidation that prevails in our community so we may raise the vibration of love, peace and safety.
We pray for those who have sworn to serve and protect. May they eliminate from their ranks all those who are corrupt!
For those who have been murdered in the line of duty, we remember their families and loved ones left behind. May they be comforted in their time of sadness and distress. We pray that the police will act and carry out their right and proper duty in safety and with fairness.
We hold this country in prayer that has systems that are unjust and discriminatory. May the light of wisdom, truth, justice, fairness, compassion and love prevail in order for the healing of this great land and its people to occur!
Let us seek to express forgiveness and move towards reconciliation and not retribution and in so doing, become fully human.
Let us move beyond fear of our differences into acceptance and appreciation of our diversity and in so doing, create a world that is expanding and evolving.
Let us move from separateness and hate to inclusivity and love so that together we create a world that works for all!
As we hold this truth for this country, we hold it for all people of the world!
For your Infinite Grace, your eternal love and endless blessings we give thanks!
And so it is!
Nathan DeMay – One Spirit Interfaith Seminary Student
Eternal Spirit. You are our Mother and Father. Have mercy on us when we forget that we are one family.
As we engage our sisters and brothers:
May understanding replace ignorance.
May empathy replace fear.
May cooperation replace undue competition.
May peace replace violence.
May we learn to see one another with Your eyes, loving and accepting unconditionally.
Repair our family’s broken relationship, and bring us together in a communion of love.
Rev. Debra Watts – One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
A Prayer to Love
Can I bear this loss?
Each thought of my beloved, now gone from me, takes me further into despair.
God, send your angels, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel and Raphael to gather around me.
Have them spread their wings and provide a warm, quiet place for me to rest.
There I will take a strand of thread from the golden ribbon that connects all of life and with the most delicate of stitch, sew together the torn pieces of my heart.
Sushmita Mukherjee – One Spirit Interfaith Seminary Student
For Light from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue
Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life.
In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.
That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.
That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.
When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.
When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.
When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.
When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.
As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.
And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.
Rev. Zoraida Saldana – The New Seminary
Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace sometimes attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born into eternal life.