You don’t stand a chance against my prayers
You don’t stand a chance against my love
[Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble, Ghost Dance, Music for The Native Americans, Capitol Records, 1994]
It’s a song about spiritual power and a restored land. Plains indians danced the Ghost Dance to resurrect the dead, heal the land and restore the its caretakers – the native peoples. Some believed it would get rid of the white people who had taken away their way of life, starting a political revolution that would restore peace. Others believed that the peaceful, non-violent behavior it engendered would restore political peace. Either way, it came from remarkable spiritual visions and it brought hope to people in desperate need and dire circumstances.
In December of 1890, at Wounded Knee, hundreds came to dance the Ghost Dance. Believing that their dance would protect them, even from bullets, they danced the outlawed dance. A gun went off, United States Army soldiers panicked, and soon 250 or so men, women, and children were dead.
There is no magic song that can stop bullets from tearing into living flesh. There is no dance that can bring peace to people whose lands and cultures have been banned. But what if the dance is a prayer?
Prayer isn’t magic, but it’s powerful. It can bring peace and forgiveness. It can and does create a new world. Praying for those who harm us may not save our lives, but it can lift our enemies into the embrace of God. On this side of life or the other, no one stands a chance against the power of love. Who’s to say when such prayers will create heaven on earth?