Another mass shooting. Another tragedy. Another call for prayers. It is a seemingly senseless cycle.
People are rightly skeptical of the need for prayer as we are caught in an endless cycle of inaction and mass death. I find it particularly disturbing that we are willing to tackle banning all Muslims because of an incident in New York on a bike path but that we are not willing to tackle our treatment of and access to guns.
The Sutherland Springs shooter and the Las Vegas shooter both have one thing in common: domestic violence. We actually could write a narrow and compelling law that prohibits domestic violence perpetrators from having firearms. Washington state did it and it passed with voter approval. That is not people coming to take away your guns nor is it people trying to create a slippery slope. It is taking guns away from known perpetrators of violence. (I am purposefully not using the names of the shooters. Let's know the tragedies by the names of their victims and places.)
And it is not a mental health problem. It is a toxic masculinity problem.
And yet we call for prayer. I believe that prayer is happening all the time. That prayer is the inherent energy of the divine (or universe for James) that calls us to greater justice, mercy, and compassion. Our job, in entering prayer, is to find that energy and go with it. Align our own energies with the greater energy. Change ourselves. And when we change ourselves, align with values of greater humility, the cosmos has no choice but to change. People around us will react whether in wondering, "How can I get what they have?" Or "What a snowflake! Thinking compassion will save the day!"
But either way, prayer is for us. And in the case of prayer after tragedy, it helps lead to action. If we align ourselves with greater justice, mercy, and compassion, we must do something about it. This is what will tell you that our political leaders who claim to be religious do not, in fact, pray. Because they do nothing that brings about the greater good. *snark*
Prayer is more about becoming open and entering into the mystical reality of complete connection. I really don't have the vocabulary for it. People experience it in different ways. Meditation, prayer...others of different learning styles experience the connection through music or academics. Discovering your prayer language, like your love languages, is part of the task of being human.
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
I wonder how that would equate to prayer languages? I hear the divine connection in...
- Tactile (like Prayer beads)
I took the 5 love languages online test and discovered that my top two are tied: Quality Time and Acts of Service. This suggests that I can best meet the holy divine through meditation and mission. My way may not be your way. And, of course, I totally just improvised the prayer languages so there is that.
I digress. Prayer in response to tragedy is necessary. It aligns our own hearts with the heart of the greater good. And once aligned, you will be compelled to do action because the greater call of the universe is not just compassion, but justice. Not just mercy, but mission.
Today, I leave you with a Zoroastrian Prayer for Peace (this would be the liturgical prayer language):
We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world, that understanding triumph over ignorance, that generosity triumph over contempt, and that truth triumph over falsehood.
Amen and amen.