Prayer for Immigrants

Sometimes it helps to step outside our little moment in American life to seek wisdom from an earlier time.

Among the few books on my desk top is a collection of prayers first published in 1910. This morning we share part of one of those prayers.

For Immigrants

O thou great Champion of the outcast and the weak, we remember before thee the people of other nations who are coming to our land, seeking  bread, a home, and a future. …

We, too, are the children of immigrants, who came with anxious hearts and halting feet on the westward path of hope.

We beseech thee that our republic may no longer fail their trust. We mourn for the dark sins of past and present, wherein men who are in honor among us made spoil of the ignorant and helplessness of the strangers and sent them to an early death. In a nation dedicated to liberty may they not find the old oppression and the fiercer greed. May they never find that the arm of the law is but the arm of the strong. …

Make our great commonwealth once more a sure beacon-light of hope and a guide on the path which leads to the perfect union of law and liberty.

  • Walter Rauschenbusch, Prayers of the Social Awakening, The Pilgrim Press, New York and Chicago, 1925 (originally published by The Phillips Publishing Company in 1910.
  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, February 2, 2017.

Let sleeping dogs lie

Poet and guilt-free friend

Poet and guilt-free friend

EDITORIAL NOTE: The author of this poem is the bald one, not the one with all the hair. He was taking a nap during the daytime because he couldn’t sleep at night.

AWAKE

I do not want to be awake. I wish,
instead my racing mind would shift into
a neutral gear, spin to a stop, rehash
no more today/tomorrow/yesterday.
I meditate, I take slow breaths, I say
the very first prayers that I ever knew…
I try to sing myself a lullaby,
but silently, so not to wake nearby
a gently sleeping soul who has it seems
a clear conscience and peaceful dreams.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, sent by email to Editor @12:25 a.m., June 11, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Albert Camus said, “A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.”

Thanks you, Steve, for the art.

Prayers for the people of Moore, Oklahoma

Social reformers Frank Mason North in foreground, Walter Rauschenbusch behind.

Social reformers Frank Mason North in foreground, Walter Rauschenbusch behind.

There are no original words today. Tears. Sighs. Stunned silence.

But an old prayer for Passion Sunday from the Riverside Church in New York City came to mind. It was the prayer of The Rev’d Dr. Ernest (“Ernie”) Campbell for the workers most of us take for granted daily in good times. Today it applies to all the first responders who labor to care for the people of Moore.

Bless with Thy power and presence, gracious God, those who do the menial chores and thankless tasks behind our city’s bright façade:
those who rise early to bring fresh food and produce from the marketplace;
those who clean our halls and offices through the night;
those who work our switchboards and see that messages get through;
those who load and unload trucks;
those who stock the shelves and work the back rooms of our stores;
those who fire boilers and provide maintenance in the heat and noise of basements that we seldom visit;
those who clean our windows and mend our masonry and keep our flagpoles in repair;
those who set tables, bus dishes, and work in our many kitchens.

In following our several callings, make us aware of what we owe to unnamed thousands whose work is indispensable to our well-being. And give them to know, O God, that in Thy sight, if not in ours, the least of the earth are very big indeed.

– Ernest Campbell (Click HERE for Ernest Campbell’s obituary.)

The hymn “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” (music by Ludwig von Beethoven; lyrics by Frank Mason North, pictured above) meant so much to him that he used it for the title of one of his three books. Below are the lyrics. Click HERE for an organist’s rendition of “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life”.

Where cross the crowded ways of life,
Where sound the cries of race and clan
Above the noise of selfish strife,
We hear your voice, O Son of man.

In haunts of wretchedness and need,
On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lures of greed,
We catch the vision of Your tears.

From tender childhood’s helplessness,
From woman’s grief, man’s burdened toil,
From famished souls, from sorrow’s stress,
Your heart has never known recoil.

The cup of water given for You,
Still holds the freshness of Your grace;
Yet long these multitudes to view
The sweet compassion of Your face.

O Master, from the mountainside
Make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
Among these restless throngs abide;
O tread the city’s streets again.

Till all the world shall learn Your love
And follow where Your feet have trod,
Till, glorious from Your Heaven above,
Shall come the city of our God!

Getting to “the Still Point”

Steve Shoemaker sent this Breath Prayer on March 24, 2012 during Holy Week based on Jesus’ word to another criminal hanging on the cross next to him. I waited until now to post it on Views from the Edge.

Prayers (breathing) –  8 syllables in (inhale); 8 out (exhale)

– Steve Shoemaker

Jesus Christ, Child of God, Savior: (teacher) Have mercy on me, your sister.

(brother).  (on us your siblings.)

(Have mercy on me, a sinner.)

Gracious God, Jesus Christ, Spirit:

Give me (us) peace, patience, joy and love.

Loving God, you create, sustain:

give us dreams, energy and skill.

Holy Spirit, Comforter, Fire:

Mold us, move us, keep us alive.

Mysterious Divinity:

Show us what we can know and do.

We have left the path, lost our way:

Forgive us, O God; set us straight.

Your grace and love surround us, God:

Help us be grateful, loving, kind.

Our life will soon be over, God:

Remember us in paradise…

I waited until now to share this prayer. It strikes me as an antidote to the onslaught of misery and hate during this campaign season. Breathing Prayer calms my soul, slows down my whirring mind, and brings it down into the heart. The ancient practices of Breath Prayer and Lectio Divina move me into the great Stillness at “the still point of the turning world”… where the dance is.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither
from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest
nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the
point, the still point,There would be no dance, and there is only the
dance.

T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965), The Four Quartets.

For more on Breath Prayer and the variety of prayer in the Christian tradition, click on this link: Ten Ways to Pray: A Short Guide to a Long History of Talking with God.