Seeking themes for justice and hope for a new book …

A Child Laughs – Prayers of Justice and Hope, edited by Maria Mankin and Maren C. Tirabassi, published by Pilgrim Press will be an anthology of prayer and reflection organized in a fifty-two week volume with fifty-two topics of concern for God’s people and the earth. It will call for justice and reconciliation in a voice of hope for the sake of God’s children everywhere.

Our first phase is gathering themes. We are looking for specificity, though preferably not events that may feel dated in a year or five (for example, Black Lives Matter or migrant crises are appropriate while Ferguson and Syria are overly specific). We understand that this query is broad and that there are more than fifty-two concerns of justice and hope, but we’re hoping you’ll be inspired to dig deep for interesting and pressing issues.

Further background for our title:
Isaiah’s keynote prophecy in Isaiah 11 of justice and reconciliation between humans and within the natural world culminates with the image of a toddler sitting above a rattlesnake’s hole. Mary’s Magnificat is not so much a lucky-me pregnancy song as it is recognition, as soon as she was carrying a child, that justice should extend to all the hungry and the poor. A strange story in 1 Kings 3, often cited as proof of Solomon’s wisdom, actually describes a true parent as one who will never find acceptable the death of any child. Jesus agreed, naming his family as the ones who do God’s will, insisting his followers put a child in their midst and even accepting the miraculous generosity of a child’s lunch.

One Child Laughs

My grandson Leo giggles –
and it’s some funny song of mine,
a tickled foot,
a smile mirror to my smile,
the dog’s silliness,
the infinitely repeatable humor
of something
falling on the floor,
or just the way sunlight
tinkerbelles on leaf
or the shiny carseat buckle.

And I think,
this is what Mary hoped
when she belted
magnificat in second soprano –
not just her precious
and most intimate joy –
one baby,
one face smiling down,

but a wild hope,
a wild, almost unimaginable,
a wild and ordinary hope
of her heart
turned inside out —

that when one child laughs,
there will be a reason
for laughing
for every child in the world.

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12 Responses to Seeking themes for justice and hope for a new book …

  1. sugruerm says:

    Very lovely and surely the wish of every new mother and grandmother (in the last few days my soul has been re-magnified in great-grandmother joy)

  2. Magical, holy delight, over ordinary things. Nice to see little Leo appearing in poems now — as he explores the world and finds it good –

  3. dabar96 says:

    Migrant workers is a recurring theme for my muse.


  4. Amelia Richardson Dress says:

    Beautiful poem–it is stirring my heart. I’m excited for this new project for you!

  5. Carol Lundgren says:

    Hello – thank you for this invitation! I will await the book, certainly! The immediate concept that comes to my mind is the rainbow flag … and the weaving of its story, perhaps from Creation to Noah to Now . And the juxtaposition of disciples drawing the fish in the sand and how both of these symbols morphed into society through the ages. The meaning behind each and the passion of those meanings in a way that helps others “get it” and grow into the knowledge of these symbols and how they are not just for some of us, but for all of us who follow Jesus. Just one idea. Bless you for the gifts you share. I read your work and the works of others you share with such generosity to feed my spirit. Thank you, Maren.


  6. Maren says:

    What a wonderful suggestion Carol — I will definitely include this!

  7. June Goudey says:

    Glad to hear this is in the works, Maren! I initially had a hard time coming up with themes to attach to Justice and hope as they are powerful themes on their own. However here is one attempt to respond to your search. J and H are definitely needed for those who have and are suffering mentally illness; trauma victims like those who experienced Boston marathon bombing and other violent acts that rock and destroy our sense of every day normalcy; economic justice takes so many forms; mass incarceration as well as false incarceration; I continue to think that the nature of communion in all of creation requires justice and hope in order to be recognized for how critical it is in shaping well-being in us all. These are just a few ramblings, perhaps in a day or so more clarity will come. Best to you as always

  8. Maren says:

    If you ramble like this June, I am pretty impressed. I will add these to a very interesting list. Thank you for some unique takes on them and we will welcome even more.

  9. Gayle Murphy says:


    It may be a given, but I would like you to address justice for the homeless and those without the security of a dependable place to live.

    Thanks, Gayle

    Sent from my iPad


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