Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Are Those Swords I Hear?

I am devouring all articles this morning about Mumbai and Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan. It had to be Pakistan - the country sharing a border with Afghanistan, the one harboring terrorists of all description, the thin-ice ally and politically unstable Pakistan. Condoleezza Rice is headed there (Islamabad tomorrow). She's making sure the people running Pakistan's show understand who's boss: “I have said that Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency, cooperate fully and transparently,” Rice told reporters in New Delhi today. “That message has been delivered and will be delivered to Pakistan.” I am chilled to the bone as I imagine what could be next. What if Pakistan doesn't "cooperate fully and transparently?" What if we don't agree on the term "fully"...or "transparently?" Is this an ultimatum? Gulp. Just take a look at the map of the area if you need help envisioning the simmering volatility on this piece of our sweet planet...
Geroge Bush & Co. have 48 days remaining as the captains of this boat. President-elect Obama has no plans to step in, say his people. He's sticking to his "one president at a time" rule. And so, we pray. What else can we do? Read this wonderful poem by Ellen Bass, and pray with every move you make, every breath you take...
Pray for Peace by Ellen Bass
Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross, his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah.
Raise your arms to Mary that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent. Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper of time before, time now, time ahead, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time, climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies,
for the ATM, for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act, each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer. Make the brushing of your hair a prayer,
every strand its own voice, singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping through your fingers, a prayer:
Water, softest thing on earth, gentleness that wears away rock.
If you're hungry, pray.
If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox, to the video store,
let each step be a prayer that we all keep our legs, that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle or a skateboard, in a wheel chair,
each revolution of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves we will do less harm,
less harm, less harm. And as you work, typing with a new manicure, a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood into rubber-capped vials,
writing on a blackboard with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas,
pray for peace.
With each breath in,
take in the faith of those who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered.
With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace,
turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace,
each shiny seed that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path.
Fold a photo of a dead child around your VISA card.
Gnaw your crust of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling your prayer through the streets.
Can we be crazy for peace?

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