Photo Credit: Sarah Tosh Manafo
As the world feels like it might give way into dust, I’m clinging to a promise of hope. I can still feel the faint dry spot on my forehead where it was marked with ashes. We haven’t been promised permanence, and that pisses me off. The profanity feels necessary. And still. The eternal Word promised to be with us always. Hope is falling, even here.
Too many times I have heard that everything happens for a reason; I am increasingly convinced it is a lie from the pit of hell designed to let the violent and abusive off the hook. But a quieter truth whispers hope when I am afraid: God wastes nothing.
Droplets of water, grains of sand, collections of air blown by the wind. This is the stuff that God has used to form the most majestic parts of creation. Why would humanity be any different?
From my earliest memories, I can recall staring up at the sky in wonder at how small a speck of creation I occupy. In a vast universe, I am nearly nothing and yet my heart proclaims my existence with each muscled beat. God is so deeply invested in all of it, without being controlling of any of it.
All this life is so full of meaning and so fleeting at the same time.
We wade through the wreckage of the pandemic we have been living in. We watch as a beautiful people are threatened with weapons and rubble. We do the next right thing, but it doesn’t seem like enough.
Since God grieves with the ones who mourn, shares in their sorrow, echoes in the rallying cries of peace and justice, I know deeper than I have known anything in my life that God does not cause destruction. I’m counting grains of sand, strollers and canned good, notes of the Ukrainian anthem sung by my neighbours. I am counting the tears of refugees, the bodies of the dying, the impossible number of dreams left behind. I am gathering up the wreckage to offer it back to the One who will make it all new.
Here we are, Maker of Heaven and Antelope Canyon. Here are the pieces, Prince of Peace and Pripyat (a city abandoned after the Chernoble explosion). Right here is our desire and our destruction, God of the lowly and the least. Take all that we have and all that we are. Everything that we have made and all that we have broken.
Waste none of it. Make the very wreckage a sign of our hope.
May no flower petals fall without becoming something more beautiful. May no life be lived without witness or memory. May every breath give way to a wind of change. Take the sacrifices, the courage, the losses, and work your resurrection.
This is the God who brought the Israelites out of slavery and exile. This Presence was with Daniel in a lion’s den, Esther in a castle, Jonah in the belly of a whale.
Be with us now.
We are exhausted and unsure, and we are not alone. All of the majesty and misery of earth is passing away and a miracle. Give us the strength to love for this moment and the next one. Keep us counting the cost, measuring the weight, bearing one another’s burdens.
Soften the hearts of all of humanity that we might believe that hope is enough when we cannot be certain. And when we see someone losing hope, let us hope for them, carrying them along until they can take another step. When it is my turn, remind me that I will need you to hope for me.
Hold our fears, cradle our confusion, stay the uncertainty. Show us the cracks that will let in light. Lead us to the people who will offer what we need and receive what you have given us to give away. Sustain us past the point that all seems lost.
Detach us from the painful expectation of permanence. Receive everything we offer. Make the wreckage into something worthy of the pain.
May our collective sorrow and radical acts of love be gathered up in You, source of our Hope.
Thank you for this prayer. Amen.
So good to see your name, Sara. You’re welcome.