A Prayer for Summer

O God, life-giver, pain bearer, river from whom all things flow . . .

Forgive us for our grievous sins. For all that we have done. For all that we have left undone. Have mercy on us.

I pray for the loved ones of those who have died. For the families, friends, and partners of the victims in Orlando, in Istanbul, in Dhaka, in Baghdad, in Medina, in Syria, in Fallujah, and in all communities torn apart by bloodshed. Grant them peace. Grant them love. Grant them strength to go on.

I pray for the families of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, and for all victims of racial injustice. Give us courage to accept our faults as an imperfect union. Give us wisdom to listen to those who are hurting and to learn from their suffering. Give us strength to mend our broken systems. Help us to heal the brokenness in our communities and to learn to love each other as your beloved community.

I pray for Michael Volz, Goddess Diamond, Amos Beede, Mercedes Successful, and for all transgender folk who have suffered violence, sexual violence, and murder because of who they are. Help us to acknowledge that you work in ways that we can never understand. Help us to see your light in the eyes of our siblings who do not conform to our gender norms. I pray that all efforts to legally discriminate against our transgender kin fail, that unjust laws be overturned, and that the fear of what we do not understand may evaporate like the mist in the mid-July sun.

I pray for the poor. For the homeless in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and everywhere.  For the unemployed. For the underemployed. For those who have little and those who have nothing. Help us to see these people in our midst. Help us learn to recognize your spirit within them. Teach us, O God, to help them. Just as you yourself once taught us to care for the hungry, the poor, and the outcast.

O God, I pray for my queer and trans kinfolk who suffered anxiety, anger, fear, and despair in these weeks following Orlando. I pray for queer and trans folks of color—especially those who are Latinx, black, and Muslim—who face violence and injustice every day. I pray for the folks who came out because of Orlando and for those who suffered because they were true to themselves. Help us to heal and to find strength through each other. Help us nurture a stronger, more inclusive, intersectional community. May our pain carry us forward and reignite our fires of righteous activism. May we learn from our forefathers and mothers who rose up at Stonewall and acted up to fight AIDS. May we continue their struggle until all of us—until all people everywhere—live in a world free from discrimination, hatred, and bigotry.

O God, you have taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. To love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.

Help me to love my enemies.

Help me to pray for those who have persecuted my kindred.

God, I pray for Omar Mateen and for those he left behind. I pray for his family, for his father, for his wife, for his son. Take my anger. Take my sadness. Grant me the strength and the courage to forgive this man for his sins.

God, I pray for police forces everywhere. I pray that they may unlearn their biases and relearn how to nurture goodwill within the communities that they have sworn to protect. Give us the patience to work with those in power, the strength to carry out reforms throughout the criminal justice system, and the compassion to nurture relationships between those who serve us, between our neighbors, and between ourselves.

God, I pray for the followers of ISIS. I do not understand them. I do not forgive them. (God, help me to forgive them.) I do not know how to stop them—that is, I do not know how to protect their victims from further harm. This war is beyond me, O God: I do not know how to counter their worldview. All I can ask is that you forgive them. That you guide us. And that somehow, someday, this fissure between us may be healed.

God, I pray for the straight folks who let us suffer in silence after the shooting in Orlando. I pray for the politicians who co-opted this massacre to further their own agendas. I pray for the friends who did not comfort us and the media that did not acknowledge us. I pray for all those who silenced us: by their actions, by their denials, by their inaction, through their silence. Help us to forgive them. Help them to learn from this: to unlearn their bigotry and their callousness. Help them to recognize all that they take for granted. Help them to see your light in our eyes.

O God, I pray for all who live in fear or anger or hatred or bigotry. I pray for those who cry out for vengeance and those who cry out to be heard. I pray for all of us whose hearts are broken. I pray for all who are suffering—for all of us are wounded. Help us to see the brokenness within each others’ hearts.

And for myself, I pray for compassion. I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. O God, this summer has seen more than its fair share of bloodshed. My heart breaks and breaks only to be broken once again the next day.

Yet let it not be my will, but thy will that is done.

Photo © the author

“Suffering and tragedy and folly will not disappear in a purified world. They are part of humanity. That is why. Even in a world of suffering, there can be joy and shining light.” -Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

God, I pray that my heart keeps on breaking—again and again and again.

Because if my heart did not break each time their was pain in this world, then this life would not be worth living.