Divine and Dusty: Embodied Prayers for Lent

Saturday, March 27, 2021


Katie Snipes Lancaster

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.
—Marilyn Nelson, “Dusting”

God of life, God of all life, spores, cells, winged protozoans:
Many moons ago, Marilyn Nelson wrote this poem
of gratitude for all submicroscopic living things.
Back then, she could say thank you for pearl-necklace viruses,
but now we wonder: can we say thank you?
Can we use those two simple words
to lift up to you the spiked ball of virus
that has shifted and changed all that we know
that has caused grief and loss so unyielding we can hardly speak it?
Yes, the dust. Thank you.
Yes, the algae, the fungus, the mutual genetic cooperation Maryln Nelson notices.
Thank you.
But, forgive us for withholding our thanks for viruses.
Find, instead, a way to hear our collective groan,
our deep guttural prayer,
our unmistakable murmur of need and grief.
Hear these other prayers when gratitude is its own impossibility.
Hear us, O God. Amen.

March 27, 2021

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