Sandhill cranes dancing at sunset at Staten Island Rd. Preserve, Northern California. Photo art by a member of the World in Prayer team.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
Dancer, Dance-creator, Dance-leader, weave us all into the dance of the changing seasons, of the tiny shoots of fresh growth and the falling leaves that renew the soil. Dance with us the dance of endings and beginnings. Dance with us as we test the winds of tomorrow.
Dance with us as we remember the paths of our ancestors, of those who traveled long distances, and those who stayed behind. Dance with us as we honor the rediscovery in Iraq of an age-old technique for creating salt-free mud bricks – a building technology that offers hope not only for restoring Iraq’s Babylonian antiquities, but also for many other parts of the world facing increased salinization from climate change. Dance with us as we honor Nigerian scientist Eucharia Nwaichi, who was just awarded the John Maddox prize – for scientists who stand their ground in the face of adversity. In the dangerous Niger Delta, where militant groups blow up oil pipelines and oil companies are accused of negligence, she is teaching people to tackle oil spills with bioremediation – planting vegetation that naturally removes pollutants in the soil, without the need to remove chemicals and dispose of them elsewhere.
Dance us from desolation to the consolation of grief-shared. Dance us amidst the hands reaching out to touch, to hold. Dance us into comforting the survivors and relatives of the 150+ who died last week in a stampede in Seoul, South Korea, and those still in shock after the deaths of 135 – many of them children – when a bridge collapsed in India. Dance us into healing painful memories and long-held resentment at injustice, as the trial finally begins of those believed to be responsible for the 2009 stadium massacre in Guinea. More than 150 were killed, and hundreds more were injured, when a demonstration against Guinea’s then ruler was violently repressed.
Hold us up in the dance, O Lord of the Dance, when the fear of dying becomes almost too much too bear, when the fear of continuiong to live in intolerable conditions is equally bad. In Uganda, where an outbreak of Ebola has already killed 48. In South Sudan, as the UN warns that two-thirds of the population risks severe hunger in 2023. In Ukraine, where Russian attacks continue. In Lebanon, where the number of cholera cases may already be in the thousands. Cholera is readily preventable and treatable – but Lebanon has collapsed from being a reasonably-affluent country to one that no longer has clean water, basic sanitation systems, or ready access to medical care.
Lead us into the circle dance of justice, into the wondrous dances of peace. Turn our hopes of peace and peaceful transitions into the joyous dance of celebration. In Brazil, where Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won the recent presidential election – and outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, without formally conceding, nonetheless has said he will follow the Constitution. In Iran, where despite brutal retaliation from the government, increasing numbers are coming out to protest injustice and rally for freedom. In Ethiopia, where there was a breakthrough in diplomatic negotiations this week: the government and regional forces from Tigray agreed to cease hostilities after two years of war. In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as troops from Kenya and Burundi join an East African regional force aiming to ends decades of bloodshed.
Dancer, Dance-creator, Dance-leader, weave us all into the dance of love, into your dance of amazing life.