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It’s a wild ride to experience a hurricane. It’s also confusing to accept the reality that the part of the city I call home remained unscathed while parts of my city will never recover. How does one hold the tension of going about business as normal while others will never be able to live in the same community again?
Some of my friends poke fun at my effusive praise of the city I love. The thing is when you love a city as much as I do you can’t help but be compelled to care after a hurricane, even if the area you call home was unaffected.
My colleague and I visited some of our sister churches in Staten Island this weekend. I saw police officers wearing masks on their face to protect them from the sewage contamination. I saw houses completely removed from their foundations. Many houses had a sticker on their door expressing that they could only go into the place they used to call home for only an hour a day due to the contamination. There were cars flipped over in marshes with no parking lots close by. The pile of growing garbage is mammoth. It’s a mess.
This is my city. I care.
The past two weeks I’ve been steeped in helping people get connected to Sandy relief work. Part of that work has involved writing prayers to help the people I serve root their volunteer efforts deep within their spirituality. Honestly, I am not sure I have the capability to write more about Sandy at this time so I offer this prayer as a lament and praise. Please consider this prayer in your meditative life today.
God of compassion and support,
We pray for every person who is providing care and direction in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We pray you grant wisdom, patience, creativity, and listening ears to all those who are strategizing effective ways to help. We know this will be a long process of rebuilding and we cry out with the psalmist, How long Oh Lord? How long will people have to live in salt-water soaked homes? How long will homes be dark without power? How long till neighborhoods are clean and down power lines are repaired? How long till all are protected and cared for? How long will the good earth be polluted with our greed? How long till there is shalom?
We know you are at work. We trust you will not forget those who are in need. We praise you for every person who is part of the relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We praise you for government officials who work together to ensure an organized plan to rebuild our city. We praise you for houses of worship that are mobilized to give their time and money to care for those in need. We praise you for the police, firefighters, and medical workers who toil to ensure safety. We praise you for the hands passing out food and warm clothes and those who are receiving these items. We praise you for warming shelters. We praise you for every organization that is coming together to provide care and relief. We praise you for social workers and religious leaders who are offering spiritual and emotional counsel in this time. We praise you for creativity and patience as we look for solutions. We praise you for neighbors who have opened their doors to those in need of housing. We praise you for grassroots efforts and communities working together.
God, it would be a grave mistake if we grew faint in praying and providing care for those who are in need. Grant us the tenacity and creativity to help those who are rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Let us not grow weary in remembering those who are hurting. Open our doors and open our hearts so that we may be builders of your city. Let shalom be restored.
In your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.