Last Monday, it was pouring rain during rush hour and my husband was late coming home. The kids and I finally sat down to eat without him. I started to pray, sincerely asking, “Lord, please bring Dad home safely.”
At that very second, he burst through the door. The kids yelled and laughed. And there was much rejoicing. I exclaimed, “Our prayer has been answered!”
My husband simply saw that we were planning to start eating without him, and said, “I guess you guys were hungry.”
Feeling somehow that I should act fast, as perhaps our prayers of that moment had more effect than usual, I thought of one item that really needs prayer, and said, “Quick! Let’s pray some more. Lord, PLEEEEEASE bring peace to the Middle East. And thanks for the food.”
That prayer may sound trite, but it was genuine – that’s just the way we pray around here. Also, I have learned from Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow that sometimes the most sincere prayers are the ones that just say, “Help!”
Perhaps I need to read her latest book, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. The world is desperately in need of repair. Tikkun olam is a Jewish concept that says that we humans are supposed to be partners with God in bringing about the healing of the world. Christians have this concept, too – that God asks us to help in the plan to restore all of creation to a state of joy and peace.
After dinner that night, I was doing the dishes and talking to my son. I said, “The problems in the Middle East are intractable,” with intractable here meaning ‘describing a problem that I cannot solve while I am in the shower, nor can anybody else in the world seem to solve it.’
My son said, “Are you sure you don’t mean retractable? Or maybe it’s a distractable problem.” Then he proceeded to name every English word with the root ‘tractable’ in it. See why we are getting no closer to a peaceful solution? In our kitchen we can’t even find the right words, much less finding the right words where the conflict is actually taking place.
All I have to offer is prayer. Words. A paltry response, but it’s all I’ve got.
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu yaaseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol yoshvei teiveil.
May the one who makes peace in the high heavens make peace for us, for all Israel and for all who inhabit the earth.
Our Father in heaven, may your name be holy. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And let us say, Amen.