Thoughts, and Prayers

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the use of the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” and its use after events of loss and suffering.  We all tend to say it.  Your best friend’s Grandmother passes away, and your response is “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of loss.”

What does this phrase mean?  Thoughts and prayers of what, exactly.

In this case, I think these are thoughts of sympathy (or empathy) and prayers of comfort directed towards those who have lost someone.  The thoughts are just to let the person know that you have them on your mind. It seems kind, and harmless, but I believe that this is most meaningful when you know them, or have shared the relationship that they just lost.  Prayers of comfort (in our society, from my perspective) stem from the Judeo-Christian belief in an all-powerful God, one who can (for lack of a better word) gather you up and give you a big spiritual hug.  I believe this expression is less effective (for the person who experienced the loss) when you don’t really know them, or you sense that the conveyance of sympathy is insincere.  The issue of late, where our nation’s leaders express their sympathies (time and again) over a repetitious tragedy – that could have been avoided – is an example of this.  Their approach to this expression of sympathy weakens the concept of prayer.  Why? Prayers are supposed to be powerful, they are intended to reach us, change us, and help us.

Let’s talk about prayers a bit.  There are different kinds of prayers:   thanks, confession, hope, comfort, deliverance – to categorize a few.  All prayers are goal oriented.  They are intentional- to get us to believe, to convict our minds of something, to help out someone, to give ourselves clarity, etc.  They are meant to spur us to action.  The strength of our humanity is in our ability to act, in compassion, of one mind.  I think prayer facilitates this.

But the issue is, you must act.  Prayer without action at some point, is empty.  The very act of prayer should indicate that you are considering a problem that needs a solution. Our lawmakers offering their prayers to those who have lost loved ones in a senseless mass killing is an empty platitude without some intention to make their suffering worth the cost.

Churches should know the power of collective and intentional prayer. It is the “superpower” of churches (I know it sounds silly, but in today’s language – this is it). Yet, I believe, in these times the focus has been misguided.  Too many are concerned with their belief that “we” have pushed God out of society and they pray for supernatural intervention.  First of all, the idea that an all-powerful, ever-present God could be pushed out is – ludicrous.  Did you ever think that God may have taught us about prayer so that we could discern and then act with conviction to make changes that impact each of our lives, to meet people where they are, to comfort them out of love, or to right wrongs? Perhaps, that it is a lesson to learn to be more like him.

This is complex, but not hard.  Lawmakers should take up and pass better legislation that reduces assault weapon availability and improves mental health assistance. It is heartless and cowardly to not do so.  Those who pray for supernatural intervention should pray themselves for discernment about the importance of lawmakers who can act in the best interests of all humanity, collectively and individually.  They could also pray for strength to act out of love – not morality, not condemnation, not prejudice, not to point out faults, and most of all – to not be afraid to admit they are wrong.

And then do it.

 

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Soundly

An artless man dreams no dream,

writes no poem,  cannot scheme.

He sees no beauty in those that wish

for better efforts netting fish –

Building hopes – not a gist.

Money talks – lime and twist.

A feckless man walks no walk,

Only chitters on in talk.

Shares no elegance in wit

spewing anger, bile and spit.

Polished words – not a skill.

Poisoned venom – strapped and shrill.

A useless man will he become?

Continued uninspiring thrum –

Whilst the beauty grows in spite

filling in the space and fright.

Magic overtakes the ill.

Speak it soundly, you know the drill.

 

 

 

Veritas

This poem was born of a phrase,
its stem and budding promise
a point, the origin of which
is unknown.
There was growth,
with cooing and a wriggle of cadence.

It crawled and I was proud.

With careful diagramming,
bone to bone, its frame was
constructed – evolved to stand
and as a laggard on legs, walked
from the mirage of composition
to live.

It left behind the chaos
of structure, the wild haikus
and couplets in the dark,
keeping grasp of its intent,
as language that now endures.

Shouting and singing its veritas
to anyone who passes the moment
and lingers.

And when the time for its jaunt
is at an end, it will sit for awhile
and crumble in upon itself, leaving
the predicating letters – its a’s
and u’s – to seed the next generation
from the soil.
 

Walkways

The hollow sound of steps on concrete
as I move through quiet halls,
walking with a mood of purpose,
striding forward without pall.

Thinking of the crunch of leaves
in autumns’ past on wooded malls,
Shuffled red and brown debris
whispering with their ruffled brawl.

Memories of a trail in snow
with silence mid footfall,
or sloshing on the coastal sand
the tides erasing tread and scrawl.

The running gait on playground fields
and rhythmic marching bands recalled
echoing their pace and chorus
clapping, steps from those enthralled.

All this sound and vision walking
as I move through vacant halls,
listening at the sound of knocking
of my own steps, from wall to wall.

 

 

 

In wandering and being inspired

I jump over waves in the wind, now thinned-
causing a splash on descent, and the water imbues.
I walk in circles in some well-trodden shoes,
soles that are worn to the heel.
And the crestfallen face of my mind
urged in the gentle spell of her lines-
the brushstrokes of her pastel flowing gown
compel me to write something down.
I frolic amidst the swell and soak in
the flow of her form that rescinds
the aches in my well-trodden soul.
I stand embracing the image and whole.

 

Words

Borrowed light from the edge of the blinds
illuminates and too, reminds
a claim that words festoon –
Be it despot, king, or brass baboon.

As wind-blown foolishness accounts-
judgement – dogma- can win out
if echoed loud, with sheening rancor.
Out to dull our dreams, this cantor.

But tides roll in to shape the sand
and acrimony leads the damned
to an ever-shifting, deep abyss
where nothing left can calm or kiss.

So to this hole of excrement
trash words of hate and their assent.
Endow more words to raise and soothe,
and stem the shit of brash baboons.

Scale

I step to the side of a ladder
and look up the beams to ascend –

Pulling the halyard, extending
the length of the climb to the end.

Firming the placement and facing,
I place on the first rung, a tap

of rhythm and firm motivation
supporting the weight of the step.

Then, rundle by rundle, I top it
climbing by scaling the air.

Grasping the sides upon reaching
a place at the base of the stair.

And wondering a bit as I conjure
the memories of whence I have come,

I turn, and with hand on the railing
continue my climb to the sun.

************************
A poem for the hope that a new year brings, though I suppose it could apply to other challenges we face daily. I wish everyone a prosperous, happy, and successful 2018.