We Pray For Those Who Have Died
We pray for all those who have died.
For everyone who has ever been shot while worshiping at a mosque or synagogue or church or a Sikh temple or anywhere else. We pray for each person who has died violently no matter who did the killing.
Our prayers are for anyone and everyone who has died neglected and alone. We pray for those who have died because they were abused, tortured, or ignored and left to die.
Some of us pray silently while others scream out in our anguish and pain. Our prayers rise like a fire before you. We do not know what else to do.
We pray for those who have died in schools and movie theaters and at concerts. Our lives are connected in a worldwide network of faith and life. The death of any person anywhere for any reason diminishes us and we feel their loss.
Our prayers include all those who have ever died in war or police action or conflict or campaign. We confess how easy it is for us to want to rely on violence and force to impose our will on other people.
Our prayers include people who have taken their own lives.
We pray not only for all those who have died but also for the people they loved and left to live on. Help us become instruments of support and relief in their suffering.
Our prayers ring hollow and feel ineffective, even to ourselves. Praying for those who have died may not change anything but we pray because it is the only thing we know to do.
We pray for those who have died as we anticipate and face the time when we will die ourselves.
Why We Pray For Those Who Have Died
We believe part of spiritual life is about making us feel safe and secure.
Our world has become a place where children are not safe in school and people are not safe worshiping. Journalists are not safe entering the consulate of their own home country and some of us never feel safe.
The one thing every person who has ever lived has in common is facing death. Most of us understand in our minds we will not live forever. We still see death as a possibility, a likelihood, a risk. Few of us plan for an event which is inevitable.
Sudden, violent death catches us off guard. We are shocked and surprised when people die violently. While we try to protect ourselves from violence we know it could just as easily have been us who were killed.
We pray for those who have died because it could have been, and eventually will be, us.
Anyone’s death reminds us of our own mortality. The world around us seems to become more risky and less secure. Our network of life and support and love feels smaller.
We reach out to the people around us and ask spiritual life for answers to our fears and our questions.
Why was it necessary for those people, for that person, to die? Was there anything we could have done to make a difference? Are there ways we can live our lives in which death is not our enemy?
Some of us pray for comfort, for ourselves and for those who have died and those they loved. We hold them in the sacred presence of spiritual life and ask for peace.
How We Pray For Those Who Have Died
Many of us do not really know how to pray for those who have died. The one thing we know we want for them is to still be alive.
For me, prayer is not just a list of requests or demands. I spend time praying without words or thoughts.
When I pray for those who have died I remember them. It may be times I spent with them or lessons they helped me understand. I remember when we laughed together and when we cried together.
We spend time together in my memory and I listen to sacred stillness with them.
I also pray for those who have died I have never met. When people are killed in mosques in New Zealand or a synagogue in Pittsburgh we probably do not share memories. Their photos and stories come flooding across my computer screen. I know enough about them to listen to sacred stillness with them. Together we listen and sit in the presence of spiritual life.
Each of us has our own ways to pray for those who have died. The stillness they heard is the same sacred stillness we hear as we pray for them.
When We Pray For Those Who Have Died
We take time to pray for those who have died because they are important to us. Even when we have never met, when we could not speak the same language, their lives inspire and shape us.
When we pray for those who have died we begin to put ourselves in their places. As we see life through their eyes we start to understand our own lives in new ways.
I pray for those who have died who I love and those with whom I have competed. Listening to sacred stillness with them, sitting in the presence of spiritual life, reveals valuable truths.
There are those who have died for whom I pray regularly. Sometimes it reminds me how close they still are to me and other times I miss them even more.
When we pray for those who have died we begin to hear them in sacred stillness.
We pray for those who have died and ask spiritual life to embrace them with loving arms.
When will we take time today to pray for those who have died?
How will we pray this week for those who have died?
[Image by wongaboo]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.