A month of prayers: week 2

A tray of candles, blurred into indistinct circles of light, against a dark background. A multicolored square, presumably stained glass, brightens the upper edge of the shot.

Week 2, only 2 weeks late! This has been sitting in my drafts for a while now, waiting for me to add headnotes to a few of the prayers. Oops?

8: To (and for) America

[Reading back through this poem, I still love it even though it brings a pang to read what I wrote on the morning of election day. Despite feeling angry and depressed and scared about America’s choice at the polls, I still yearn for the great bird of America to rise up beautifully.]

I pray to the spirit
of America: young one, wide one,
great spanning bird of the continent,
now soaring, now stooping, now
poised in uncertainty:
hear us.

Rise up, bird of hope, and sing again
your wordless tune: in voting booth,
in winding queue, grant wisdom
to root our choice in shared
humanity, in respect for all who, too,
sing America.

And after, after tallying and squabbling
and counting and re-counting and all
the many ings of electioneering,
may we settle to the business
of governance and rise
above our differences to legislate
a better America, a patchwork
stained and torn and mended,
yet warm and welcoming and bountiful
in its variegation, its difference.

9: Against hopelessness

In a time of fear, I call out to the gods of my heart and my hearth: build in me a bulwark against hopelessness. Strengthen the safe haven of my heart. Give me courage to fight against despair and apathy. Feed the fire of life and creativity and joy within me, so that I may warm others and strengthen their flames in turn, until we are all a brilliant glow that banishes the dark of despair. Build in me a bulwark against hopelessness.

10: For our [vast, inclusive] tribe (to Teutates)

Teutates, god of the tribe,
gentle gardener, now
we are in need of your care.
Now is come the storm, the cold.
Now we must endure, now
we overwinter.

So root us firmly in the earth.
Shore up the earth about us,
warm our spirits to resilience,
grant us the restoration
of the fallow time.

But also let us not wall off ourselves,
not huddle in so tight
we crowd out growth and shoulder out
the stranger in the cold.

Let our grove be as expansive
as the crystalline December sky.
Let our roots spread wide and intertwine
with others’ when they offer peace.
Let our tribe be one of welcome,
one of difference,
one of care.

And when we are replenished,then
I pray you: spring us forth with boldness
and with firm resolve
to usher in a better spring.

11: For Veterans Day (to Lugh)

[I skipped Veterans Day and came back to it. I’ve never served in the military, and I have critiques of my country’s military presence overseas, not to mention the way our domestic law enforcement is increasingly militarized. And yet I also think of the Dumezilian division of roles in Indo-European societies, and recognize the importance of the warrior. This prayer is, in a way, my process of trying to find a way into Veterans Day that feel neither untrue to myself nor mere lip service.]

Lord Lugh, great warrior of the Tuatha Dé Danann, I sing your praise.
Fierce striker, mighty protector, you led the gods to victory at Moytura;
your strength and skill are without peer.

Yet your skill is not limited to the arts of war.
You are poet, historian, musician, healer, smith;
you are the god who shows the fullness of the warrior’s life.

So often I feel myself at a divide from our country’s warriors,
though they are my family and my friends, my ancestors.
Your many-skilled example shows the bridge between my life and theirs,
the passions and pursuits that animate them, the values shared for which they fought.

In this time of strife, help me honor those who fight;
help me honor both their service and their diverse humanity.
May you guide and protect them both in boardroom and on battlefield
and support them when their tour is done.

12: To the Mothers

[I think a lot about care as a votive offering. I also think about the ways that caring for others can be depleting, even though it be vital.]

O Matronae, triple Mothers, this child of earth calls out to you! In ancient times the folk carved votive altars to you, seated figures robed and hooded, bounteous gifts of the land in your hands. In this time of struggle, help me to lead my life as a sort of votive: let the care I extend to others be a reflection of your care; the support I give an outgrowth of your own; my love a portion of your love. And in so doing, may I be also lifted by your support, your care, your love. Mothers, grant me solace to extend.

13: For a godchild (to the Ancestors)

To those whose lives led to my own;
To those whose spirits guide my prayers;
To those whose struggles mold my work:
This child is loved; he holds a special place in my heart.

He has his own ancestors of blood;
His parents will teach him the ways of his faith;
He will discover the heroes who inspire him in his time.

And yet I ask you, o my beloved dead,
To take him as your own. Number him
Among your lineage. Guide him,
Shelter him, look indulgently
Upon his steps and missteps.

Hold him in your hearts, as I hold him in mine.

14: In the pre-dawn glow (to Aurora)

[When I wrote this, I had fallen off the prayer-a-day wagon; I was feeling so much anger and despair, and it just wasn’t conducive to writing. My husband left the house earlier than me, and texted me to make sure that I would see the moon hanging low in the pre-dawn western sky.]

Low in the West, the moon
sinks toward the treetops,
robes itself in a yellow haze
of cloud. Pendulous, mere hours
shy of full, it draws my gaze
and holds it, though my feet ache
in the pre-dawn chill.

Behind me, the eastern sky tints
from black to blue; the houses
stand in silhouette, simple shapes,
a diorama of the neighborhood.

Aurora, let me linger here.
pause for one small second
that I may gather peace in this moment,
suspended between light and light,
harbored in the cold.

Header image: “DSC_0865.JPG” by Eusebiu Balauca/Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND license.


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