These prayers were written for and first offered to God on February 21, 2022 at the Montreat Conference Center during the symposium, Poems for a Dangerous Time. I presented a workshop entitled Psalms in Despair: Reflection, Practice, & Prayers During Trauma Recovery. We began the workshop with these prayers.
Let us pray,
Healer of our known and unknown wounds, we acknowledge our desire for this session, this space, this time together to be physically and emotionally safe for all people. We ask Spirit to give us the insight, energy, humility, and grace in creating and maintaining safety for everyone gathered here today. Protecting God, hear our prayer.
We acknowledge, with respect, we occupy a room built on land once stolen from other people. We recognize the Anikituwagi, known also as the Cherokee, lived here, loved here, and cared for the land here. We also acknowledge this land knows the evils of human bondage and its aftermath. Build in us, O God, the courage to offer reparations just as the Israelites asked and received reparations from the Egyptians and the Egyptians were saved because of it.* God of truth and courage, hear our prayer.
We acknowledge we may feel overwhelmed or agitated during this hour. Help us care for ourselves and one another through prayer, taking space, breathing, and checking in on one another. Caring God, hear our prayer.
We acknowledge that we do not fully understand another’s experience. Open our hearts to greater insight into ourselves and others and in doing so minimize our ability to diminish others. Empathetic God, hear our prayer.
We acknowledge we slip into voyeurism wanting to know details of others’ tragedies and pain. Protect others’ stories from our selfishness. Grow in us true compassion for others and ourselves. Compassionate God, hear our prayer.
We acknowledge we can talk more than we listen, check our phones more than we listen, tune out more than we listen. Open our ears to one another. Help us to hear one another. Strengthen our ability to listen with our hearts, bodies, souls, and minds. Acknowledging God, hear our prayer.
Having given these prayers to you ,O God, we now breathe asking Spirit’s wind to flow in and out of us.
Take a deep breath in expanding your chest, lungs, belly, and hips.
Breathe out as your insides collapse a bit.
Take another breath in and out as you slowly and gently come back into the room.
*Exodus 12: 35-36; Schlimm, Matthew. “Saving the Egyptians,” in The Christian Century. January 12, 2022. 24-27