Prayer after the Gun Tragedy in Buffalo, New York

God have mercy on those weeping
for beloved ones who died today
in the Tops supermarket.

God have mercy on those injured in body
and bless those who care for them.

God have mercy on those injured in mind
because they were there
and because they will remember
their fear twenty years from now,

or because they need to go somewhere
anywhere,
tomorrow to buy groceries
so that their families can eat,

or because they feed their families
by stocking produce, being a cashier,
or returning carts, or filling shelves.

God, have mercy on every Black person
in this country targeted today
by a white supremacist
in military grade helmet and body armor
with a Bushmaster XM-15 E2S
Sporter semi-automatic rifle,
a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun,
a Savage Arms Axis XP bolt-action rifle.

God have mercy on pastors preaching,
and planning funerals,
churches praying and bringing food,
grief counselors making themselves
available for all who need to talk
and school counselors responding
to the fears of teenagers
and kindergarten nightmares,

local government, law enforcement,
social services preparing
to do whatever is needed,

for neighbors being neighbors,
and all the rest of us
taking the means of such death away. Amen.

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Wildflower Eulogy, guest post by Mark Saline

Mark’s word about this … We become what we focus on all day.

Jesus:
Consider wild flowers of the field

Wendell Berry
knows where wild flowers bloom

William Blake
sees heaven in the wild flowers

Pete Seeger:
Where have all the flowers gone?

Everywhere,
they’ve gone to girls and graves

God plants wild flowers in our love and grief


I dream of a quiet man who…
 knows where the rarest wildflowers are blooming  

                                                                                                        Wendell Berry

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
 And Eternity in an hour   
    – 

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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Prayer in a time of baby formula shortage

God, our Christmas stories
tell about parents
who are terribly, terribly afraid,
yet how they find safety
for their holy child.

And, so we learn all children are holy
and pray in this time
for parents desperate with fear
that they cannot feed an infant
with the formula needed
that responds to an allergy,
cares for a disability,
meets the desperate needs
of those who work for hourly wage.

We pray for these children,
tiny, less than a year old,
that all the wise people
from east and west, north and south,
will find the star to bring the gifts
to these who are Emmanuel,
God-with-us. amen.

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From Tabitha to the Tablecloth

She was the reason Peter came to Joppa,
and when he looked back,
he realized that it wasn’t only
so that he could show
Dorcas and her friends she was alive,
but so that he would be.

It was as simple as her two names,
Tabitha for Jewish friends
and Dorcas for her Greek ones,

In a time when Jew stayed with Jew,
Greek with Greek,
Christian with Christian,
and deep between lay fear or prejudice,
envy, condescension, hate.

This one woman welcomed them all,
(wearing herself out doing it),
and it reminded Peter
of someone he once knew,

so, when he had a dream
of a floating tablecloth,
full of everything he called unclean,

he was half-ready for the voice,
telling him to learn to be a guest,

just in time for a knock on the door,
just in time to spread a tablecloth

for Joppa and Jerusalem,
for gay, lesbian, cisgendered, queer,
trans, nonbinary, bisexual,

for those who receive Covid vaccines
and those who do not,
for those called pro-choice
and those called pro-life,
for Republican and Democrat,

and mostly everyone willing to be called
Tabitha and Dorcas …
(or anything but late for dinner)
at God’s table for the world.

Fresco-Catacomb of San Gennaro, Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
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Just a post-Mother’s Day Happiness post!

Videographer is Troy Sugrue, addressee-sing is Jayne Sugrue and musicians are their three sons. Originally created for a birthday and re-visited for Mother’s Day, Troy’s Mum Rosalie and sent to me a little late (they are all in Aotearoa New Zealand so Mother’s Day was two days ago)because “someone could use some happiness.” I think we all can (besides I am a sucker for a deep bass!)

The trick here is — think these young men are singing to you! Maren

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Tabitha is interviewed …

No, I never met Jesus.
To be honest, if he came to Joppa,
I was too busy to notice.

I’m Tabitha. Greeks call me Dorcas –
The fact is that everyone is always calling me.
And calling me. And calling me!
I’m the kind of person
who needs to say, “yes.”

I make clothes. I serve meals.
I take care of kids, visit sick folks,
stand in the snow outside windows
of locked down assisted living facilities.
zoom with women
who’ve lost their husbands,
and with those who wish
their husbands would get lost.

I was always tired,
really tired for several days,
kind of nauseous, pain under my chin.
Of course, I kept on going!
They say my heart gave out.

(You’re curious about the next part?
I’m not allowed to describe it,
but I won’t mind
the day it comes again.)

Sure I’ll tell you what happened next.

All those folks I helped
had a chance to help me.
Probably it’s the best thing
I ever did for them.
They washed me, cleaned my room,
laid me in bed,
dragged Pentecost Pete here
to show him the clothes I make,
and ask him to un-death me.

What did he do?

He shut the door on all of them,
made me sit up in bed
and told me to get a life.

Mourning Tabitha, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. wikimedia commons Southwark Cathedral stained glass window

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A Conversation for Mayfifth Eve

“I was anxious all afternoon
as it moved on to evening,
like a child on Christmas Eve –
the month, the year of waiting
has gone past,

anonymous lights in the window
saying – watch with me,

all my life hanging out –
the sequined, the darned, the damned.”

“That makes perfect sense,”
the other says,
“All the Christmas symbolism,
shows how you’ve given
yourself the present … of sobriety.”

“Well, not so much really.
Close as I come
is following some crazy star,
when almost every night is filled with clouds,
and I’m doing my best
to avoid the oasis.”

“At least you admit you’re wise —
some magi in you –
and you need to acknowledge
all the gifts you bring.”


“Um, not quite there yet,
I guess it’s more
Luke than Matthew –

because what it’s really like,
most of all,
it’s sitting around some church basement

with a circle of
angels … like you –
getting directions to Bethlehem.”

“Well, Merry whatever … and happy new year.”

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Prayer for teacher appreciation day


For teachers who know their subjects, their tech,
all the shifts in styles of education, and
who understand how what happens at home
influences everything,
I give thanks.

For teachers who are expected
to keep students safe from gun tragedy
to please every parent on the
“how to deal with covid spectrum,”
to buy supplies with their own resources,
and not complain about level funding,
I give thanks.

For teachers who guess every day
at how to reach some kindergartener,
whose hearts break
when a teenager dies by suicide,
who celebrate the successes
in sports and drama, after-school jobs,
Poetry-Outloud and recovery,
I give thanks.

For teachers of art, music, PE,
who need to learn so many, many names,
teachers of self-contained classrooms
who focus on fewer,
each with a different journey,
teachers of ELL* or HiSET
who specialize in saying “good-bye,”
I give thanks.

For much joked-upon substitutes,
retired teachers who find new ways
to be educators every single day,
parent volunteers, student teachers,

for teachers who changed my life
and those who are changing lives today,

I give thanks.

  • Also sometimes called ESOL or ESL.

This is my mother, Liz Fosmark in her first year of high school teaching in Elkins, Iowa, 1940. English and … Drama, which class the entire football team decided to take to get their grade points up. Every one of them was physically much bigger than she was. They got the grades they wanted. She did teach a second year. She was required to quit when she married … she opposed a long engagement. Liz loved her subjects and she loved most of the teachers she had ever known. I remember her saying to me, “You can’t just put the two of those together. It takes so much more to be a teacher.”

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Prayer for those in Storms in Kansas, and so many other places

God, you do not speak from a whirlwind,”
but through the calm of silence,
the still small voice,
the hands of cleaning up and caring,
of tending to injuries of bodies,
the years it will take to rebuild,
and to the fearfulness
that the tornado whirls into
children and adults as well.

Gently care for those who grieve a home
in Andover or Wichita,
lost and broken precious possessions,
streets and familiar businesses,
a park to play in, the Y,
the familiar neighborhood.

And we pray for all who have known
this week’s storms and hail,
wind and flash flood,
and those who anticipate violent weather
in the Plains, the Midwest, the South
today and in the week to come.

Hold those who wait, those who fear,
those who rescue, those who tend injured,
those who watch out for a neighbor,
those who need your Peace
to be still in all danger. amen

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Prayer for Ukraine from Lamentations 3: 49-50

My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until God from heaven looks down and sees.

God, see my prayer ­in the sky ­
the Ukraine flag over the Atlantic Ocean,
photographed by a friend,

as you watch the prayers ­
in the rainless sky over Demydiv,
after the villagers flooded everything
that was precious to them
to bog down Russian tanks,

the reflection of fires,
from missile strikes over Kyiv
in the black truceless night,
even as the António Guterres visited
for the United Nations,

a gray heaven still low
above the Azovstal steel plant,
refuge and trap,
for Mariupol defenders and civilians
awaiting evacuation.

You never choose one nation,
or one people, over another,
but I learn from the old story of Noah –
you often put your sign in the sky.
amen

(photo, Nancy Donovan — Ukrainian Flag)
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