PRAYERS OF ACTION
In times of crisis, people often look for ways to participate and express their feelings of empathy, sorrow, and concern. Yellow ribbons, moments of silence, memorial services are some of the ways we strive to show our concern. And, while these things show respect , they are only sympathetic words. Given the scope of the tragedy that took place on September 11, perhaps our token of sympathy and prayers should go beyond the traditional and take the form of some type of Active Prayer or tribute.
Think for a moment of these victims and the families of those who suffered the consequences of this senseless act of evil. While nothing can take away their grief, would it not offer some token of comfort to know that the sacrifices made a difference in the lives of people? If this terrible act helped to change peoples’ attitudes and lives in some way? If out of this tragedy hope might be given to the hopeless, or hatred be removed from someone’s heart? There may be a way that we can extract a little good from this horrendous act of evil, honoring the memory of the deceased, offering a sense of purpose to this madness, and actually spiting those who would foster hatred and contempt through such acts of terror.
What we are suggesting is that we turn all the expressions of concern, all the generosity that is taking place and supplement them with a personal action that reflects love and brotherhood, the very antithesis of terrorism. In this spirit we have put together some suggestions of things we might personally do in memory of those that died. It is our hope that you can come up with your own personal tribute, but offer these things as examples of the kinds of tributes which could lead to a very different world and go far beyond words themselves. Obviously, some can do more than others, and what one does is not as important as doing something (big or small). In that spirit we have tried to give a versatile list of suggestions.
1, Giving blood is one of the most obvious and many have. But for those who can give it maybe we could make it somewhat regular (maybe once a year) so blood supplies never run short for any tragedy. And, those with rare blood types can offer the gift of life to so many.
In conjunction with this concept, we may even want to go further and join the organ donor program; so in the event of a personal tragedy --- we may give the gift of life to someone else. God forbid that any of us ever need go through the a tragedy such as took place, but let it serve as a reminder that we never know what lies unexpected in our lives and that life itself is such a precious gift so that it will never be taken for granted.
2, Speaking out against intolerance in the form of letters to bigoted commentators, letters to elected officials, and raising our voices against those who would perpetuate intolerance, divisiveness, and foster hatred.
In conjunction with this ideal, we might seek to learn more about some religion, race, or lifestyle that differs from ours, for in striving to understand the seeds of tolerance are sown.
3, This tragedy has left a lot of children without a parent as one can assume that many of those who lost their lives had children. In the spirit of not forgetting, maybe we could volunteer time to a youth group, or the Big Brothers (or Sisters) programs. What a wonderful way to remember --- by giving love to someone who may be in need --- by offering hope and friendship to a child that may be lonely.
And children are not the only ones we can reach out to. There are the aged, many in nursing homes with no one to care. Maybe they would like someone to share their thoughts about this tragedy with. There are the just plane lonely who may just need a friend. To reach out to another in any form is to help rid this world of the seeds of
hatred where so much hostility can be born.
4, Do something special with your own family, demonstrating how precious your time with them is. Remember the calls that went out from the airplanes and World Trade Center, when in the face of certain death the victims could only think to call and express their love for those close to them. Take some time and express your love for those close to you in a special way.
5, Perhaps we might bring peace to our own hearts by “burying the hatchet” so to speak and settling some differences or disagreement we might have with someone else. Every settled dispute, every quieted argument, are simple steps in making the world just a little better place.
These are just a few simple suggestions to offer inspiration. The truth of the matter is there are a million ways to turn our words of prayer into actions that express our real sorrow. While we all seek justice for those who perpetrated these atrocities, truly the best revenge is to make our nation and our world a more loving, tolerant, and caring place. Love is the key to the Kingdom of God, not in the next world, but in this one! To reach out is to build a bridge of love and a little self-sacrifice can be the pillars of that bridge. Any act of love, big or small, is the Essence of God moving out into our world. So let us pray not only in our words --- but in our actions as well, and those actions can become the Image of God shining forth from the ranks of humanity.