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A Prayer For World Peace

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Phil. 4:4

We pray that we may learn the peace that comes with forgiving and the strength we gain in loving; that we may take nothing for granted in this life; that we may learn to see and understand with our hearts; that we may learn to rejoice in our being. We pray for these things with humility.

Rejoicing in what is, finding joy in the messy here and now that I do not and cannot control, is an impossible task if I require all things to align with my own wants and needs. Joy is a response to seeing the world as the amazing place that it is; it is not accomplished so much as it is glimpsed and fallen into. I can’t make it happen, I can only accept that it can arise wherever I am, in whatever circumstances I find myself.

Every time I take a walk on Barnumville Road, I rejoice in the beauty of the mountain in front of me, the hydrangeas across the way, and the birds flying all around. I didn’t create any of these, and I have no part in their flourishing. Yet, whether I am happy, sad, tired, satisfied, or hurting, they bring me joy. I can’t earn that joy, and I can’t take credit for it: I can only pray to God to be aware of it, regardless of my own condition and the condition of the road I’m walking.



The saying is that love is blind, and there’s some truth to that. Love blinds us to imperfections and red flags, and allows us to dismiss warning signs we would be wise to heed. But it’s nothing in comparison to the blindness that comes from lack of love. What we do not love, we do not cherish. What we do not cherish, we are willing to neglect or use for our own purposes.

It is with the heart’s eyes that we understand the intrinsic value of the life around us, in its many forms.

Nothing For Granted

When I was a child, a neighbor I knew told me that she’d almost married a man who became a wealthy, prominent politician. Instead, she chose another man who didn’t achieve great wealth or fame. Although she never said it aloud, it was clear to me that she regretted her choice.

As I grew older, she spoke of this choice many times. It wasn’t until I was fifteen or so that I thought through the implications of such a choice: three children that would not be born, extended family that she would never know, decades of experiences she wouldn’t have, the love winding through all of it never to be. She would never have her life particulars had she not made the choice she did.

There’s a precious uniqueness to the life that comes from our choices. Had she made a different choice, she may have had more money and social standing, she may have had a happier marriage – she may even have had children she would love fiercely. But she wouldn’t have the ones that her life had brought. Would she really be willing to wish them out of existence, or did she take it for granted that they would somehow, impossibly, be given even if different life choices were made?

Would I be willing to lose the holy what is, with all its complexity, for an unknown what is not? Would you?

Picking A Fight

Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?

That question came up every so often in the neighborhood, usually spoken by an older sibling. Picking a fight with someone who didn’t have a fighting chance wasn’t something the kids in the neighborhood accepted; the bully faced a crowd rather than a single, smaller victim.

How would you like it if…

someone hit you…someone didn’t take care of you…you were forced to fight or carry heavy loads without rest…the people around you treated you like garbage?

Bullying and cruelty end when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Empathy, compassion, action: these come only when we can see value in the lives of others – especially in the lives of those with fur, feathers, and fins.

Means and Ends

A Prayer For World Peace

It boils down to this: are other creatures merely means to whatever ends we seek, or are living creatures here for reasons beyond our own? If I hold with the latter, I’ll pay the extra couple of bucks for the humanely raised meat and eggs on my plate. I’ll use my money to buy make-up that didn’t harm animals, and I’ll be willing to pay higher taxes to have oversight of animal treatment in medical research.

Those are my ethical reasons. But it’s the wonder of all the cats and dogs I’ve known that is the real reason…


Home Among Strangers

Most come from Afghanistan, but a few are from Haiti, Mexico, and Guatemala. I see them walking in Bennington and Manchester, and hear their mysterious, beautiful languages. They are here because they cannot stay at home. The reasons are many and full of sorrow – oppressive regimes, religious fervor, no way to make enough money to survive.

As a Navy brat, I grew up moving every year and a half – new schools, new accents, and new homes. But I always knew the local language and my family could always go back to our home community to visit family and friends. It wasn’t always easy, but it was quite an adventurous way to grow up.

With the climate bringing destruction and violence common in many places, the number of people forced to make their home among strangers is only going to increase. I pray that I can find ways to make my new neighbors feel welcome, not as permanent guests but as family.

From Jane Goodall’s A Prayer For World Peace; Hong Kong: Minedition, 2015. For more on this and the rest of the series, click threeP’s above.


We pray for the victims of violence and war; for those wounded in body and for those wounded in mind.

John called his wife and the pastor of his church a couple of minutes beforehand because he didn’t want one of his twin sons to find his body in the garage – he didn’t leave enough time for Linda and David to prevent it.

John couldn’t find a way to talk about the war that left his heart, mind, and soul in a dark room with no way out but a bullet. 

John left behind a family and circle of friends that loved him, and a bunch of us in the congregational church choir who loved his wife and eight year old sons. 

At twenty-one years old, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could be so isolated and so grief-stricken that death seemed the best gift he could give himself and those he loved. 

War and violence claimed him, caged him, and spilled into the lives of those he wouldn’t for the world want to hurt. 

But hurt us he did.

I hope we learned enough from John’s death to find other ways out of dark places.

Jane Goodall's Prayer

No Choice

Every child deserves to be welcomed into the world with joy. Each baby should have the basics – safety, food, clothing, shelter, engagement – provided without fuss or resentment. No child should have to offer his or her body for the use and gain of others, and no one should have to choose between death and committing murder.

Violence or violation? No child should have to choose. No adult should, either.


We pray to the Great Spiritual Power in which we live and move and have our being. We pray that we may at all times keep our minds open to new ideas and shun dogma; that we may become ever more filled with generosity of spirit and true compassion and love for all life; that we may strive to heal the hurts that we have inflicted on nature and control our greed for material things, knowing that our actions are harming our natural world and the future of our children; that we may value each and every human being for who he is, for who she is, reaching to the spirit that is within, knowing the power of each individual to change the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to have mentors who provided guidance without insisting that I take up a particular profession or remain in their particular discipline. I had a grandfather who let me learn boy’s skills, and a father who didn’t value me less because I was a daughter. Math, languages, science, home economics – it was all encouraged if I wanted to pursue it.

Many of my friends weren’t so lucky; if they questioned the direction chosen for them, there were serious consequences. Perhaps they weren’t wished a lesser life, but they were encouraged to be who they were not rather than who they were.

In the here and now, here’s hoping we mean what we pray…


From Jane Goodall’s A Prayer For World Peace, Hong Kong: Minedition, 2015


What do I want to leave with my children when I die?

Something positive rather than a mess to clean up.

Something more than an account balance.

Fewer things and a smaller footprint.

The ability to tell wants and needs apart – and to be content with needs met if it means a healthy planet and a peaceful spirit.

The courage to be gentle with this creation.

Joy in the flight of a sparrow and the turtle’s measured gliding.

The World.

Please, God. Amen.