Litany of Lament

written by The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

For two voices and a bell.

There comes now, a collective global groan, uttered at times to no one, that ascends to the ears of God. Hear our cry for help, O Holy One. BELL
Hear our cries, united by the constant, vexing, unearned suffering across every corner of the globe. BELL
Hear the desires of our bodies: relief from the exhaustion and impossibility of living and laboring under the virus’ demands. BELL
Hear the desire of our minds: rest from the mental anguish that accompanies this global health crisis. BELL

Hear us, O God. BELL
Hear us, for we did not want this, O God.
We did not want our vocabulary to grow to include contact tracing and case positivity rates. BELL
We did not want to live in unprecedented times. BELL
We did not want our wardrobes to include face masks. BELL
We did not want our prayers to be so persistently focused toward a vaccine, an effective treatment, a stop to the spread. BELL
We are inexperienced at this level of mourning, this intensity of change, this ongoing work of decisions. BELL
We did not want this, O God, and so we turn to you in prayer. BELL

Hold our collective global groan, for the immensity of such a toll taxes our ability to comprehend: half a million dead and never ceasing, 15 million sick, and more to come. BELL

These numbers are an imperfect measure of the human life lost, the suffering unfolding. And so we magnify the scope of our vision, and bring to you the smallest fraction of those who have died from the coronavirus:

  • For the Minnesota birdwatcher, the mother in Nevada who walked her children to school every morning, and the California man who fell ill in prison shortly before he was to be released. Hear our prayer, O God. BELL
  • For the Met Opera violinist, for the harmonica player from New Orleans, for the East Coast outdoorsman. Hear our prayer, O God. BELL
  • For the emergency room doctor who died in their husband’s arms, for the Haitian immigrant, for the mother to six sons, for the veteran with a gift for peacemaking, and for so many more, so many dear to us, each beloved by you, O God, so hear our prayer. BELL

Hold our collective global groan, O God, and all that is unbearable. Be the safe place within the storm, courage within the struggle, guiding light within our relentless hope, love and joy amidst suffering and pain. We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat, O God. The specifics of what we have lost are as distinctive and varied as we are unique. Let us place before you the many burdens we carry, the many losses we cannot yet articulate, the many laments we labor to name. BELL

For the grandmother who has not been able to experience the sweet smell of her newborn granddaughter.
For the restaurant worker who has not had a paycheck since March.
For the dear man who has not seen his wife in weeks.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the graduation gowns gone unworn, and the school classrooms conducted from make-shift home offices.
For the handwritten notes that replaced the comfort of a warm hug.
For the unfinished grief, the ambiguous loss, the unforeseen mourning.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the surreal quiet at the train station.
For the violent sorrow in our city streets, and the unbroken flourishing of racism.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the protest against injustice, the patient and plodding resistance and the dream of lasting anti-racist change.
For the climate migrants, the children in detention camps, and the strawberry fields going to rot.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the chaos of government, for the approaching election, for the constant disappointment and unmet expectations.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the financially and emotionally ravaged.
For silence too strong to bear.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the times we almost quit.
For intimacy lost, and broken hearts.
For the school plans perpetually evolving, the anxiety quickly mounting.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For an Easter gone and an unknown Christmas ahead.
For unanticipated liturgical improvisation.
Lord hear our prayer. BELL

For the backyard gardens thriving with attention: the lilies that opened up, coneflowers, shady ferns, and towering oaks, that redeem and reclaim hope when hope seems all but lost. BELL

We are not alone in our mourning,
you are our relentless companion,
an ever present help in times of trouble.
Be with us now, as we lay our burdens down
(silence, broken by BELL).

And hear us as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us saying…

July 27, 2020

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