God, I confess that I’m not exactly sure how you work. I don’t know if our world is a cacophony of sound all the time, or if you can tune to different stations, or if, in your divine might, you can discern what we’re saying to each other and to you all the time.
I don’t know if you heard my grandpa tell me that old men start wars and young men die in them, but I believe that Navy veteran dwells in your presence now, so you can ask him yourself. He will tell you how he came back not afraid of anything, not anymore. He will tell you about standing watch in the jungle with an unloaded gun, about rivers of garbage that he watched people drink from. He will tell you worse things and maybe not have nightmares after the telling now that he resides with you.
I want to pray for the people who never came back. For the families left bereft and lopsided. I want to pray for the ones who came back so fundamentally changed that life had become intolerable. I want to believe that some wars are good because that’s what my country taught me to believe.
I think you might be hovering close by, so you probably know that my eyes are filled with tears of righteous anger, that I have to squeeze each word out because I know what I should say on Memorial Day in the United States of America. But my fingers tap out different words.
To put it bluntly: our war memorials are full, there isn’t room for more engraved names. Our cemeteries are bountiful gardens that stretch out of sight, filled with wreaths and striped flags and headstones and collateral damage.
My heart grieves and is angry for the obscene loss of people everywhere as the pursuit of money and power and dominance drive the war machine onward without a shred of regard for the very human toll.
Dear God, forgive us when we confuse love of country with love for you. Forgive us when we believe that violence is the only way. Send comfort to those who grieve, I do not wish to disrespect the departed. Send your spirit of peace to our world, uphold the voices that are joining a growing chorus calling for peace and for change.
Help us to stop killing each other, I guess that’s all that this prayer needed to be.
Alicia Hager resides in West Michigan and is a Postulant to the Sacred Order of Priests in the Episcopal Church. Alicia enjoys spending time with her daughters and her husband, is bonkers about her cats, and blogs at astrawberrypointe.wordpress.com.
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