Friday, March 11, 2011

Praying through the news

The T.V. has been on already this morning, and we have been watching scenes from Japan. Then they cut to scenes from Libya. People have been phoning with news about my “step-nephew” who lives in Nagoya, Japan (he and his family are okay).

Something about watching disasters and wars that make me feel impotent, sometimes a bit frightened and wondering what the heck I can do….

Pray, of course.

The real task is to take this chance to get in touch with who I am and be ready for whatever might happen in my life. Because we never really know what might happen. I am traveling soon to New Zealand, we know earthquakes strike there. I don’t have any plans to visit a war zone, but I feel I need to be ready, if I find myself in harm’s way to do what I need to, to help others; ready to work to find safe solutions, promote peace. Necessary skills, when you come to think of it no matter where we are…

Do I have choices about my involvement? If I choose to be involved in a protest or demonstration or contentious conversation (try “abortion” at the dinner table) am I at peace inside? Am I still equipped with my sense of humor and compassion? Am I motivated by love? If not I need to watch out I don’t get caught up in a situation that pulls me into a place of forgetfulness, governed by fear and anger.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice: even more we need to remember who we are. I remember speaking with some monks who escaped their burning monastery in the hills above Santa Barbara, CA a few years back. How did they feel? One reported he felt concerned but not panicky, able to follow instructions and to look out for the welfare of others. I hope I could say the same! After watching the response of many during 9/11 I think many of us have deeper reserves of strength than we suspect.

I spoke with a nurse a few years ago in the Solomon Islands after a tsunami warning had her moving patients from the Central Hospital to higher ground. How did she feel? She admitted to feeling frightened but glad of work to do; happy to be helping others. It turns out that experience was a real wake up call for local authorities who would have only been able to save half the patients if disaster had struck.

But the nurse, the monks, they are people who were able to walk through frightening experiences, grounded n an understanding that they were accompanied by God.

They did not expect exemption form trials and disasters. They were able to find comfort and meaning in their faith which made them much more effective.

“Be still and know that I am God,” the psalmist writes. I pray this often. Not that I will sit still and avoid life, but that I can maintain a calm center, a quiet heart, a sense that God is with me. Then I find my decisions are sounder, my attitude is saner and I am of better service.

1 comment:

mary said...

Hi clark, you've reminded me today of an article I read about "disaster personality.Many people actually freeze from fear. For myself i realize i fall into a sort of default mode in times of extreme crisis.Praying and meditating daily brings the awareness of the presence of God first, and then the "single vision" that they talk about.Being aware of the presence of God is infinitely better than going it alone.This comes from practice of the awareness before disaster comes.
My mother used to say to me "you cant save the world mary". I always thought she was wrong{,i didnt say
that at the time.}But its true what you wrote about the internet,widening our circle of influence...what i do does matter...Mary from longisland