Tag Archives: hope

Tell Me What Prayer You Say

Tell Me What Prayer You Say

Tell me what prayer you say
when you’ve been afraid, terrorized, misunderstood, forgotten, discarded.

What words do you use?
Do you have faith?

What prayer do you say when your body, mind, soul, life
have been trampled on, or assaulted?
What prayer do you say when you’re fighting for your life,
or the lives of others?
Is marching your prayer?

What songs do you sing when they’ve stolen everything,
broken—Everything.
Burnt or tortured or shot through you or near you?
After you’ve buried your family, fled, drowned, collapsed?
What is your prayer for the child alone at sea?

Which direction do you face?
East or west?
Where is your True north or south?
Is your head covered or exposed?

What prayer do you say when they have come for you,
labeled, sorted, and separated you,
detained you, stripped you, held you down, shackled you, enslaved you?
What is your prayer for the ones who are already dead, or for the dying?
What about Saying the Names or the markers or protecting the sacred grounds?
What about the wind and the sun?
What about the Earth?
What prayer do you say when your child wants to
live, but there’s not enough food, water, air, shelter, medicine?
The bombs and guns and bullets shatter everything in classrooms and
in all the broken places here or there.
Where is the clean air, the safe drinking water, the place for dreaming?

What prayer did you say when they took your father, mother, brother, sister, child, land, food, water, home, homeland?
Are you standing?
Do you pray at night?
Do tears roll into your pillow?
Do you have a pillow?
A bed?
Are the stars your roof?

What prayer do you say when you’re kneeling,
leaning against a wall, stretching down on the rug,
sitting on a bench, or a branch?
Are you dancing in a field?
Do you light candles and drink wine?
Do you have bread?
Are there flowers? Feathers? Stones? Beads? Holy water?

When you stand on the mountain or in the valley or on the street corner
do you see a way forward?

Are we not, every single one of us here under the same sky?

Do you pray to go forward, or are you about surviving only this next minute?
Is it the same thing? Is standing still an option? Do you carry signs?

Is your prayer Resistance? Is your prayer Justice and Freedom for every single human, or just for some?

What prayer did you say when you were abandoned, lied to,
when you were disapproved of, given up on, turned away from, shut out,
stepped on, beaten down, shackled, locked in?
Locked out?

What prayer do you say if you’re not strong enough?
If you’re sick?
If you’re dying?
What prayer do you say for living?
For animals and bees, rivers and trees?

Is there a prayer for when you’ve lost hope?
Who hears that prayer?
What if you don’t believe in God or that anyone is listening, or anyone cares?
You are different, you are the same, and you’ve been hurt badly.
You’re holding on, broken inside, and your legs buckle.
You’re still grateful for your legs,
and the floor beneath you.

What prayer did you say? All those years
you’ve cried over the elephants, bears, seals, the coral reef,
the lost and stolen children, the tigers, the lions, the whale,
and you’ve done everything you could
to help.
And, it is never enough, and you tire of fighting to be seen, to be recognized,
for your birthright,
your human right; that you are born, and therefore, you exist,
a human, born for
Peace and Love, but denied it daily.
Until you’re buried, and even then the liars and bulldozers come.

You’ve cried over children and the ground, over hangings, over beatings,
Over evil in hoods or suits, they shape shift,
They bear unwanted gifts, stealing lives.
We cry together over lost dreams
and broken pipes, while poison flows, and the tears of millions fall.
Still: silence and violence. Still: Never Again.

But, it continues,  over and over again, never stopping.

What are the words for that?
What picture do you paint?
What dance do you dance?
What music do you play or sing?
What funny story do you tell?

How do you pray when you don’t believe in prayer?
What is your prayer today?
When you need a miracle; that is: a hand up, a door opened, someone who sees you and doesn’t look away when you’re suffering.
What if your prayer isn’t heard today but you need it to be heard today?

Who has your back?
Who’s with you?
Who gets it?

When you’ve been hurt and you already despair and a man of the cloth
Says, go die, what prayer is there for that?

When you or someone you know has given up, and too many around you want you gone,
And all you want is air, water, to be free, to love.

When after waiting, after being crushed, after disappointment, after being silenced, after broken promises or treaties, after despair, and somehow you’re still standing,
and maybe you even know that you’ll never give up,
And you know exactly what you’re fighting for, but you still need help.

How do you help?
Did you ask what is needed?
Did you listen?

Is your prayer a hug, a bowl of rice, warm gloves?

When hope is gone, what is your prayer?
How do you pray for strength and to not give up?
Which part of you do you call on to get through the day? This hour?
Is your job not to save another?

Is every child and creature not a world of wonder?
Does your planet not spin? Does gravity not hold you here?

In your prayers,
Do you see light and the infinite colors?
Do you float? Rise? Chant?

Do you say: count me, too.
Have you saved yourself?
Have you saved another?

Please,
Tell me what prayer you say.

© Elana Halberstadt, January 27, 2017

 

Love & peace for 2017

Dear Readers,

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written here.

Been dealing with lots of health stuff, and so much has happened here and around the country and world. There’s been way too much collective grief, hurt, disappointment, anger, and harm done to children and innocents everywhere. Aleppo, Syria alone makes me question humanity, makes me wonder (again and again) if mercy is only for some and not all. It seems so.

All the pain in the world, in all the corners where lives were cut short, or were ruined, families torn apart, or obliterated. Like no one learns from history and our species
seems hell bent on self and planet destruction.

The many stars, artists, thinkers, humans who left us.

The election.

In the midst of this, and everyone’s individual private or public life battles, people go on and live. Remarkably, people continue working,  laughing, making art, pushing forward. We all do what we have to do to get by, and there’s no way through it but through it. Which sucks a lot of the time. And this year has been difficult for many, and these are extraordinary times. Lots of WTF?! Seriously?! And now what?!

I don’t know about you, but I could do with a minimum three-month long hibernation right about now.

holidays2016

My hopes and wishes for the New Year include love and peace, clean water, fresh air, good food, safety, freedom, justice, more kindness, an end to cruelty of all kinds,  for science and facts to (eventually, and before its entirely too late)  win the day, and for the wildlife creatures and seas and skies to keep on and keep on while we each find our own ways to keep going, be with those we love, and resist  and organize peacefully so we can work to get our democracy back for everyone.

Love,

Elana

 

It never stops hurting and love is everything

Dear Readers,

hearts1

My 9-11 tears came last night. Today, I won’t watch TV or look at footage or read  about it much. I think of everyone who lost someone on 9/11/2001,
especially my friend who lost her cousin, Michael at age 27 years old.
His name is engraved  on the 9/11 memorial at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ.
I went there a few weeks ago on a beautiful evening at the end of summer, my 13th wedding anniversary.

The view  includes the new tower that is almost complete. It doesn’t seem real. I thought of my friend and that day, and everything. Everything. I touched his name. It changes nothing. But it connects me to her in my heart. It connects me to remembering what is impossible to forget. It hurts. It makes me feel insignificant, small, the way I feel when I stand under giant trees, aware of how fleeting life is, how I am dependent on others. Holding my son’s hand or kissing his cheek is perfect but when he reaches for my hand,  or kisses me, it expands my heart.

My husband’s hand holding mine is what keeps me standing up as we look for the names we know,  just breathing and looking at the lights, remembering. We’ve been together 18 years. My life was altered for the good because of him. That’s a fact of my life that can never be taken by anything or anyone, and it’s with and because of that love that I have everything.

What a miracle, how love grows from sparks and laughs and chance encounters. How sadness over loss can’t be quantified or measured or wrapped up or closed. How it hurts and I stand there and I allow it to hurt. And then I must turn my head away and walk towards the trees. I shake my head over the names and the ages and the randomness of it all, the deliberate act, the spectacle, and  I try to shake off the hurt. I breathe in gratitude for what I have. I have everything. Everything.

I think of falling down  as I look over and away and down, and my heart skips a beat because I’m afraid of heights. I’ve  been there at the top and it was so incredibly high.  I imagine what it was like to choose to jump and fly down instead of burning or gasping for air. What thoughts went through the minds of people who leapt?   Did they know peace in those moments? Would that even be possible?  Because I want to believe that peace comes and fear is erased and love wins. Or is it in this moment today that I must find that?

I think of witnesses who watched people fly down and those who had to pick up the pieces, and my heart  breaks over it all, for people I didn’t know, for people  suffering in fear, and I ask myself what have I done to make the world a better place? I ask— who am I? What can I do?  Have I loved my family today? Can I be more patient? Will I choose to be kind? Will it matter if I do or don’t do anything? Over what do I have control? When do I let go? I am afraid. Is it OK to say that out loud? I am afraid and I know I have everything and I don’t want to ever lose what I have which is everything.

And so I align my day to that LOVE. What do I need to do for my family today? What do I do for a friend? For a cause? What do I do for me that is about love so my tiny smallness, the crazy world, the terrible sadness, the never-ending violence, has a place to go, while life goes on in my corner. Trying to find the words and put them in context and be clear and feel it and go on. Letting go of the fear as it washes over me. How to make it not about me but not lose myself?

I think  of  those that survived. I think of bravery and courage and  love.

Here are two previous pieces: an excerpt from a poem and this. 

I search for ways
to go through this day that overwhelms and brings tears
and is simply, still, impossible to fully grasp.

It is an unusually hot day. It’s  not like the  crisp, cool day of  12 years ago, and repeated annually, with planes flying and life circling around and trying to accept what happened and always in the end, just being entirely overwhelmed by sadness and allowing it in but also needing to not let it swallow me up.

It’s  back to school week in my town and my son has gone three days in a row and I have pride for him, because it isn’t easy to start something new. He’s conquering fears. I’m  grateful. I can’t wait until I can go wait for his bus and come home together. I’ll offer him  ice cream and I know his face will light up. It will light up and my heart will be calm because he’ll  be with me and we’ll  enjoy ice cream together and that will be the happiest moment of this day. This evening, my husband will come home from work, and as he walks through the door, another happiest moment will happen. And when we all finally go to sleep, and Ringo snuggles on the bed, too, I’ll  be happy because I have everything, and I’ll  be grateful for that always.

I hold on to  the people and things that matter to me and wish for comfort
for others who have lost their everything.

I hope for peace in our world.

I fall to my knees.

Always, always,

Love and peace,

Elana