How long that road is.
But, for all the time the journey has taken,
how we have needed every second of it
in order to learn what the road passes by.
– Dag Hammarskjold*
The newspaper lies in a plastic bag in the driveway. The news shows up on our phone or TV screen. It is human eyes and ears, pen-in-hand, fingers typing and film crews running sound and cameras that gather the stories, events, and sorrows. Editors and production crews craft, refine and transmit, authorize, validate and publish. Shield and protect journalists in helmets and flak jackets that say “P R E S S”. We mourn for the twenty-seven media professionals killed since January 1 and this week for the colleagues and family of veteran reporter Ms. Shireen Abu Akleh of northeast Jerusalem, Israel killed in Jenin, West Bank, Palestine while reporting. A colleague was shot in the back. Seven reporters have died in Ukraine and eight in Mexico. How we have needed every second to tell the story of another, a voice speaking rapidly into the microphone, wiring the last report under fire. O Lord, you hear these voices. You see the road and all that it passes by.
We pray for our teachers who care for their students amidst COVID, school shootings, war and the commercialized Teacher Appreciation Week. Strengthen them. Energize their work. We are so grateful for the teachers in our lives. Protect our children who are often in harm’s way as they walk, bike and bus to school. See them through their school week whether hybrid or physically present, on and off the field and playground, at choir practice or sandbox. Guide our seniors, graduates – such wonders, milestones, and achievements. We cherish the mature graduates, those getting their GED, grandmothers in cap and gown. Wrap and thread your love and wisdom about these multitudes around the world. Narrow the gender gap in education. UNESCO tells us that 69 million teachers must be recruited to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.** That is eight years away! The gap in sub Saharan Africa is especially extreme. We lift forty-six countries up to you for blessing. Some of them are: South Sudan the poorest country in Africa with a per capita income of $303 per year where the house holder must feed, house, water and school a family. Burundi the East African landlocked country with a population of about 11,178,921; Malawi teetering in extreme poverty with a household income of $351; the Central African Republic with $430 to survive; The Democratic Republic of the Congo house holder has $449 to nourish and care for loved ones. Madagascar -$459 and Niger $477. O Lord, help us to pause, dwell and consider these people and the road that passes schools, playgrounds and child care environs. Help us to honor and respect and listen to women.
We hold a statistic in our head – 1.5 degrees Celsius. The World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas announced that the globe will reach a yearly average of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels of the late 1800s at least once between now and 2026. Such climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet. Help us to act responsibly and urgently on science.
The US Centers for Disease Control reports statistics on the increase in gun homicides impacting poor black youth and men. This legacy of gun violence is devastating. In this moment we consider the tender lives gone, pulling at the threads of family, community – a moment of silence.
Sometimes the news is a barrage of information on a phone screen. A silent and isolated world of click, open, delete, save-for-later, share, deplore, decry, respond. We try to have a conversation with another person distant staring at their phone. Lord you invite us, call us, bring us together. Help us to look up, listen and to be present to another. Help us to shift despair into compassion. May we see our fatigue and exhaustion as a need for rest, renewal and a new view.
You quench our thirst with true water.
Help us to shake out the door mat and right our worn attitudes and to welcome in all beings.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
*Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was a Swedish economist and diplomat who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961.