Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pray for Peace, People Everywhere!

So today is a day of prayer and even fasting (by those who are medically able) as called by the new Pope Francis. I'll readily admit my understanding of Catholicism is limited. (The most my mom told me about her time in Catholic school was that they served cinnamon and sugar on the rice at lunch time - a tradition that she carried through for us...) I know small bits from some history classes and historical fictions I have read and my strongest visual images of the Vatican come from The Scarlet and The Black and Angels and Demons. (So disappointed in the end! Especially after the build-up right before!)

That really is beside the point, however, when it comes to uniting hearts in prayer around the world in a call for peace. While most religious people feel their religion has the ultimate truth, one of the best lessons I had in 10th grade World Civ was that if God is God of all and a loving God of all, then whether the child is of the 'right' religion or not, can we really think He'd only hear the sincere prayers of said 'right' religion? (Yes, it was at school, but I'm not telling you the teacher's name so you can't sue him - it was a good lesson worth teaching.)

I have always been that person who gets excited for Christmas by the time summer has hit its swing. You know the one - you all groan as soon as you hear someone's already listening to Christmas music and state quite strongly that it shouldn't be brought out until AFTER Thanksgiving, and preferably not even until December 1st. I learned at a young age that I cannot safely speak for others in a large range of topics as I tend to come from the flip side of the coin, so I won't try to here. I will say that the reason I have such a strong love for Christmas was that where my home was one of anxiety and fear and stress, the Christmas season was the constant counter to those feelings. When the world in general opens their hearts to goodness, kindness, charity, love, and peace, God is able to pour out His spirit in greater abundance and it is felt in the true Christmas spirit. Since it came from the outside, it was strong enough to counter, for those couple of months, the harder things of home.

I've long wished for those feelings of peace and hope and love and light to be there all year round and have even been confused at why that doesn't happen. I came to realize that people tend to be more preoccupied with their own lives during the rest of the year which is why it tends to only show up on the big occasions when people are united. There is great power in unity and that unity should be able to transcend the separating boundaries of different denominations.

I'm remembering the months after 9/11 when we were all still in so much shock and wondering if it would mean war, if it should mean war. I remember waiting to see what the position of the church would be and the sense of peace when President Hinckley said that while we do not recommend war, we will accept the country's call to fight if it decides to as our due diligence to the nation which is our home. Looking back, I think most of us have a sense that it might well have been better if some of the courses taken had been left alone, and I think this is why so many are uncomfortable with the thought of going into Syria with guns blazing. At the same time, there is also something of a WWII/Holocaust echo and the wondering of when it is right to step in to protect those who are being hurt. It is a sticky situation and I do not know the answer.

But I can pray for peace. I can pray that God's/Allah's/Jehovah/s spirit is with all involved insofar as they will allow it to be so that peace can be restored to that battered land. I can pray that there will be enough donations from around the world to help those who have lost everything in the conflict. I can pray that we will be more aware of our neighbors and better able to give assistance even before it comes to crisis. (This civil war has been going on for over a year-and-a-half, yet when I first mentioned it to a friend in spring of last year, she had no awareness of it.) I can pray that we can find strength and stability in our own lives and spheres such that we will be in a position to offer needed assistance. And I can pray that we will let the commercialism and politics of life be a simple side-note to the things that really matter, no matter what the time of year: Charity, patience, peace, kindness, hope, faith, healing, tolerance from all parties, unity.

Finally, I conclude with a paragraph about the writers of the Christmas song, "Do You Hear What I Hear?", from wikipedia (I tried to go to the original source, but the LATimes wanted me to pay for an account to view the archives...)
Regney was inspired to write the lyrics "Said the night wind to the little lamb, 'Do you see what I see?' " and "Pray for peace, people everywhere," after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City.[1] Shayne stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis.[1] "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."[1]
 And the lyrics to the song:
Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the night, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea. 
Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child, shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold. 
Said the king to the people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
A child, a child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light.

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