The prayer before dinner in “Don’t Look Up,” the satirical apocalyptic film setting Netflix records and nominated for many awards, keeps going through my mind.
“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight despite our pride. Your forgiveness despite our doubt. Most of all Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance.”
How will we spend the moments that could be our last?
How do we face tragedy with courage?
How can we find peace in our hearts when our world is falling apart?
How are the people of Ukraine, and others experiencing oppression around the world, facing their fears?
What can soothe in dark times? How can we help? Are prayers enough?
I was deeply touched by Oksana Potapova’s social media post that has gone viral.
Taking comfort in the ordinary and finding connection with loved ones can soothe our fears. To consent in times of trial, my word for this year, is not so easy. “To consent sounds so passive—to give up or compromise, to settle. My nature is to resist what I do not prefer, to solve problems or change circumstances so that they are more ideal, to somehow fix even what I cannot control. I tend to fight, to flee, to figure out, rather than to consent, to surrender, to let it be.” So much is out of our control.
Cameron Bellm writes, “We will never cease to be affected by things that are beyond our control, by decisions made by people with far more power than we have. But when we are let down by the greed and ineptitude of others, we can still choose to celebrate the miracle of our humanity, even as we mourn the choices that are no longer available us. We can still choose to face disaster, together.” (‘Don’t Look Up’ highlights the deep sacramentality of human connection)
In the face of great power or evil, we may feel helpless and hopeless. How can we make a difference? What can we do? Are our thoughts and prayers enough?
I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.C.S. Lewis
Fr. Anselm Gruen, a Benedictine monk from Münsterschwarzach Abbey in Germany writes, “We can’t force God to make peace. But we can trust that through our prayer, other thoughts suddenly appear in the minds of politicians, not only aggressive thoughts, but thoughts of peace…Of course, prayer is not an alibi for our non-doing. But we feel we can do little to stop this war. As long as we pray, we have hope…God often does not change the external circumstances. But He leads us in prayer into the inner space of silence…we can breathe in, although there is threat and distress all around us.” – P. Anselm Green
Prayer is as much for us as it is for those we pray. To pray is to stand in solidarity with those oppressed, sending our hope of peace. “I believe in the power of prayer to change the person praying and to affect the situation being prayed for. When I pray, I am sending my heartfelt condolences and positive energy to a specific person and/or for a situation. And I know it works—I’ve felt it myself when others have prayed for me. I can only hope it makes a difference when I pray for others.” (from Guns and Schools, Prayer and Work)
A few months ago, I created a collage that felt like a sacred feminine card. Since then, I have learned that the flowers in the image are a traditional Ukrainian flower crown, associated with womanhood and marriage, a symbol of peace, tenderness and homage to the homeland. (Source: Vogue) As always with SoulCollage®, the meaning of a card deepens over time. A title for this card has emerged: Prayers of Peace for Ukraine.
May our Holy Mother bring peace to our hearts and the world. Give us courage and an open heart of acceptance. May our hearts be soothed during dark times. May we remember to breathe, to celebrate the ordinary, to share our meals, to eat cake and to pray.
May the world’s prayers make a difference. Our Lady, Protector of Ukraine, Pray for Peace.