- Spiritual Reflections
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Here is a little prayer of thanksgiving that your family might want to sing at meal times.
Thank you for this food, this food,
this glorious, glorious food,
and the animals, and the vegetables,
and the minerals that made it possible.
Losing someone you love is painful.
Losing someone you struggled with is confusing.
Part of you is relieved they are gone.
Part of you thought you’d feel more free.
Part of you is still sad, lost without the tension between you.
Your relinquishment has been my biggest blessing.
Your very life has made my own shimmer
with joy, laughter, the words “my child…”
Adoptive mothers, like me, shout our love from the rooftops.
Adoptive fathers howl thanks.
We sing infinite gratitude,
placing it on lanterns that light up the whole city, the forest.
I wrote this prayer sitting in a military chapel in Afghanistan. The prayer was inspired by my encounter with a service-member I met. She was on her way home after a difficult tour as the lead officer on a joint theater trauma team. Among the experiences she shared with me was the memory of five Afghan children who were burned and blinded by an improvised explosive device. After I wrote this prayer I sent it to her. My hope is that these words may help her and others progress along the journey home.
Oh Gracious God,
Spirit of Life,
Source of Love
What has become of me — I am broken!
Deliver me from the dread of memory,
hatred, cruelty, and revenge,
and betrayal of trust.
Lift me from distressing dreams,
regrets, doubts, speculations,
the violence that fills my eyes and scars my soul,
and questions that have no answer.
Grant me courage
to feel my pain and grieve my loss,
and serenity to accept that the past is done;
I will never return to my old self.
Still, let gladness, faith, and hope return to me,
and let me remember the love for me that endures
even when I cannot love myself,
and even when I cannot love you.
Help me to lay my burdens
into your compassionate and forgiving hands,
and open my heart to see goodness and feel joy,
wherever it is to be found.
Guide me from isolation to beloved community,
where my anguish can be heard and felt,
where trust and wholeness can be restored,
where I may carry this new identity — this sacred wound — with honor.
Strengthen me in the ways of the Warrior,
the ways of justice, kindness and humility,
so that, knowing death, I may more fully live,
with gratitude for each moment, and reverence for life.
Disclaimer: All entries to CLF/Quest Military Ministries page reflect the personal views of the contributor. The views expressed here are in no way to be construed as an individual or individuals speaking in their official capacities for the agencies, departments, or service branches they serve in. This is not an official publication of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, any government agency, or any other organization.
You know who you are.
You put your own life on hold, move across the country to sit by the bedside.
You process the hospital bills, pay them, know they matter more than the car you had thought you needed.
You explain patiently, one more time, to the one who won’t remember.
You make 100 phone calls searching for a kidney donor.
You hold the shaking body through the nightmares, even in your sleep.
You take time to find the one food she will still eat.
You rub ice chips on his lips, and then chapstick.
You find hours you don’t have, rush to the hospice. You’ll sleep later.
You know who you are.
You couldn’t do anything else.
It is your privilege and your duty to be right where you are.
For you who are stretched too thin,
Buried up to your eyeballs,
Pulled in too many directions,
Keeping too many balls in the air,
Tracking too many loose ends.
May you drop it all, just for a moment, and know strength and wholeness.
You are never more yourself than when you are between things be it between one job and another, one home and another, education and working life, work and retirement, and so on. Cherish, nurture, and be kind to yourself in these times of revelation through transition.
—Paraphrased and amended from my friend Susan Dimaline’s words to me years ago.
Whether we suspected it was coming or were taken completely by surprise, we have lost a job and we are likely stunned. In most cases it is not because we did something wrong and are being punished. Remember that each of us has worth and deserves dignified treatment. Losing a job does not actually change who we are, although it can feel that way, at times. Thankfully, we are still ourselves. Each of us is a blessing. Remember that everything changes and that this stage of life will give way to a new one.
“Seeing systems of oppression cracks our hearts open to the plight of others. Seeing our place in those systems breaks our hearts open to the plight within.”
While many religious traditions come together in shared theological beliefs about the divine, our tradition calls us together in shared beliefs about how it is we will be together. We hold central a theology of wholeness. That wholeness requires we move beyond acceptance of diversity to an embracing of all people because of their diversity.
To achieve this in a world in which “othering” has occurred for centuries requires us to dismantle systems of oppression which give privilege to the mainstream white/Euro culture. To transform these systems, each of us is called to recognize and understand our place in the very system we must dismantle.
Quest for Meaning is a program of the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), a Unitarian Universalist congregation without walls. Join our community to cultivate wonder, imagination, and the courage to act.