paying attention to the clouds

Hello friends and happy Friday. It’s been another week hasn’t it. There was a point yesterday, and even early this morning, when I thought I might be able to craft a TGIF post that felt relevant … and then I lost the thread. Instead, I have this. I first heard the prayer last night, opening and closing our Women’s Ministry meeting. I love that it speaks to the God I know, and I think it could also speak for anyone who sees the tragedies, grieves them, and seeks a way forward.

A Prayer for a Hurting World
this is an edited version of a prayer written by Terri McDowell Ott in Presbyterian Outlook (link)

We cry out to you, O God, saying aloud the tragedies we see before us – earthquakes, wildfires, wars, tropical storms, viruses, overwhelming deaths. We are out of words and we are nearly numb. And so we turn to you, O God, in our grief and bewilderment, confident that you hear our prayers.

We pray for the daughters and sons of Afghanistan as women and girls hide away in fear and as men and boys struggle to find safe spaces for all. We pray for all the Afghani people whose lives are trapped in a war zone. We pray for American troops, morally torn over leaving this country and their service behind. Lord, have mercy. Turn us from violence as a justified means for achieving our ends. Guide humanity toward your path of peace.

We pray for Haiti, again. How often, O Lord, must our siblings in Haiti feel the ravages of earthquakes, storms, political violence? We grieve for your beloved ones and cry out on their behalf. Have mercy, rescue the people of Haiti, O God, desperate for help.

Great God of all, you know us so well. You know our pain. You know our loss. You grieve with us as wildfires consume homes and COVID-19 fills hospital beds. You cry with us as tragedies plague your people. You work beside us in ministry and mission. God of grace, open our eyes, hearts and hands to the movement of your Spirit in this broken world. Restore hope to the suffering, mend the hearts of the hurting, grant us all the strength to support those in need. As we forage for hope along the path of tragedy, may we bear the good fruit of faith, turning to each other and to you in love. Restore us, Holy God, with your hope.

and then we opened our Centering Prayer time this morning with this poem


It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver, from Thirst

Wishing you moments this weekend to pay attention and find that doorway.


13 thoughts on “Praying.

  1. The staff at our church sent the same prayer from The Presbyterian Outlook, and Mary Oliver is always a favorite. We need all the prayers we can find. It’s been a tough week in the news. I’m not optimistic that there’ll be much change quickly.

  2. Mary,
    Thanks so much for that post; it has just been a brutal time for so many all over the global and that spoke to all of it.
    I love Mary Oliver and that poem was lovely. Thank you,

  3. That prayer is perfect- thank you for sharing it. And I have that Mary Oliver poem on an index card and taped to my writing windowsill – it’s a lovely companion with the prayer.

    I’m not eloquent enough to have the right words for all of the things going on, but the words you shared are closer than what I could have imagined on my own. Thank you.

  4. This is so perfect and really feels like it could be for anyone, from any faith. There’s a prayer we say in the middle of our regular litury called Mi Sheberach, in which we ask for strength and healing for those who are ill or injured. In the past couple of years, I’ve been saying it with the whole world in mind rather than specific people because there is so much pain and suffering in the world and so many people who need our prayers.

  5. Mary Oliver has so many prayerful ways of saying “pay attention”. Those two words have so much more meaning than just the landscape around you. We need to pay attention to all who matter, and as well as to that landscape, because everything is interconnected.

  6. A very thoughtful prayer which probably speaks to all of us feeling anguish about world events and feeling powerless, even in prayer. I love the Mary Oliver piece … Thank-you: just right for me today.

  7. I don’t think I have been so shocked by news since 9/11. What were the politicians thinking about,. Thanks for sharing these prayers.

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