I feel it again on the car ride home from daycare. My daily worries, headaches, and inconveniences are pierced and shattered by word about the state of my fellow humans living around this world we share. The stories. The audible cries of the hurting.
I pause. Not to give thanks for my privileged life, but to walk a mile in the shoes of another in prayer. Seemingly inconsequential in the face of another’s impending death in war. Seemingly not enough in the face of another’s life-altering grief. Six-degrees-of-separation suggests the suffering of another is never far from me. Scripture suggests it must always be within me.
I pause and I walk next to each of them in prayer…
For the families in Gaza that mourn the loss of loved ones
For the lone child left without any parent or sibling to tell the family tales of their childhood
For the doctors, nurses, and first-responders who must harden their hearts in order to attempt to save the walking dead in their midst
For the ones who feel the conditions in Gaza are so terrible that the loss of 627 lives since July 7 is merely the cost for dignity and resources
For the families in Israel that mourn the loss of loved ones
For the soldiers killed while following the orders of another
For the young teens beaten and killed over the grudges of history
For those who lay in bed wondering each night if the Iron Dome will protect them while they sleep
For the ones who identify the “other” as “enemy” and believe that peace comes from war
For the press who risk their lives and bear the emotional burden of telling these stories
For their families who wrestle day and night with fear over their loved one’s choice to be present in the most dangerous places
For the countries of Amsterdam and Malaysia as they begin the process of grief as the bodies as they return home from the crash of MH17
For those who battle their neighbor over borders in the ancient story of power acquisition at humanity’s cost
For those who live in neighborhoods where rockets reside
For all those walking through “Death Valley” in this very moment
For their safety, their health, their heart
For the eldest siblings who bear the responsibility of keeping their brothers and sisters alive on the journey
For the parents who remain in their home countries and face violence, poverty, and the gripping fear of not knowing if their child has made it alive
For those in gangs in Central America who know only fear, survival, paranoia, and violence
For those who provide a home for boys off the street in Honduras so that they may find sobriety, safety, family, and hope through the Micah House
For those in the border towns whose fear leads to words of hatred and acts of discrimination
For those in the border towns whose compassion leads to words of mercy and acts of justice
For those who hold power and hold grudges.
For those who have no power and have no hope.
I am without answers to global conflicts, solutions to suffering, or easy steps to heal ancient wounds. I am without millions of dollars or significant legislative influence.
I am one life with one beating heart. So I give it to the world this morning. I practice the spiritual discipline of being tender-hearted and letting another’s heart-break break my own. I try not to get lost in the question of the power of prayer. I try not to drown out the sorrow with the privilege of changing the channel.
In so doing, may I listen to the Spirit’s nudging to walk towards compassion and into the doors to justice. May I lean into responsibility for my neighbor and put to death any desire to lose myself in the cultural machine of self-satisfaction. In mystery and beyond comprehension, may I offer up the love of this beating broken heart.