A Portfolio of Prayers

This page is an invitation to enjoy a sanctuary for the spirit.

The poems and prayers are a refuge of words which both give voice to the experience of living in our time, and a sense of being connected to others in their experience. The spiritual practices are an invitation to use your body as a vehicle for connecting with a deep place within yourself, a place to discover your own deep well of consolation and courage, gratitude and peace.

Many of these resources have been provided by islanders, and in many cases, written BY islanders – your neighbors and friends -- since the coronavirus descended upon us.

From Zen Heart
"When things upset us, we often think that something is wrong. Perhaps the one time this is most true is when we experience fear. In fact, as human beings, a huge portion of our energy is expended in dealing with anxiety and fear. Fear motivates how we act and react, and even how we dress or talk. But fear makes our life narrow and dark. It is at the root of all conflict, underlying much of our sorrow. Fear also blocks intimacy and love, and, more than anything, disconnects us from the Being Kindness that is our true nature.
"Even considering how prevalent fear is in our lives, it nonetheless remains one of the murkiest areas to deal with, in daily life as well as in practice. This may sound bleak, but what is really the worst thing about fear? Though it may be hard to admit, especially if we see ourselves as deeply spiritual, the main reason we have an aversion to fear is that it is physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Woody Allen put this quite well when he said, 'I don't like to be afraid — it scares me.' We simply don't want to feel this discomfort, and will do almost anything to avoid it. But whenever we give in to fear, we make it more solid, and consequently our life becomes smaller, more limited, more contracted. In a way, every time we give in to fear, we cease to truly live.
"The question remains, what are we so afraid of? Think for a minute about the two or three things you fear most. Keep your answers in mind as you read the following pages, so that your reading can be more experiential than intellectual.
"We're often not aware to what extent fear plays a part in our lives, which means that the first stage of practicing with fear requires acknowledging its presence. This can prove to be difficult, because many fears may not be readily apparent, such as the fear driving our ambition, the fear underlying our depression, or perhaps most of all, the fear beneath our anger. But the fact is, once we look beyond our surface emotional reaction, we will see that almost every negative emotion, every drama, comes down to one or more of the three most basic fears — the fear of losing safety and control, the fear of aloneness and disconnection, and the fear of unworthiness.
Security and the Loss of Control
"The first most basic fear is that of losing safety. Because safety is fundamental to our survival, this fear will instinctually be triggered at the first sign of danger or insecurity; the old brain, or limbic system, is inherently wired that way. This particular fear will also be triggered when we experience pain or discomfort. But in most cases, even when this fear is triggered, there is no real danger to us; in fact, our fears are largely imaginary — that the plane will crash, that we will be criticized, that we're doing it wrong. Yet, until we see this dimension of fear with clarity, we will continue to live with a sense of constriction that can seem daunting.
"Once we become familiar with our insecurities, a central component of spiritual life is recognizing that practice is not about ensuring that we feel secure or comfortable. It's not that we won't feel these things when we practice; rather, it's that we are also bound to sometimes feel very uncomfortable and insecure, particularly when exploring and working with our darker emotions and unhealed pain. Yet, there is also a deep security developed over the course of a practice life that isn't likely to resemble the immediate comfort we usually crave. This fundamental security develops instead out of the willingness to stay with and truly experience our fears, which means to enter into the physical experience of fear itself — the racing heart, the contractions in the chest and belly, the rigid face muscles, the hormones coursing through the body. Isn't it ironic that the path to real security comes from residing in the fear of insecurity itself?
"Insecurity can also manifest as the fear of helplessness, often surfacing as the fear of losing control, the fear of being controlled, the fear of chaos, or even the fear of the unfamiliar. For example, nearly all of us have experienced the emotion of rage, which is like being swept into a mushroom-cloud explosion. Think of all those days where nothing seems to go your way, or even just the last time your TV remote stopped working, and no matter what buttons you pushed, you couldn't get it to do what you wanted. The urge to throw the remote against the wall can feel like angry rage, but as we bring awareness to this experience, we can discover that the feeling of rage is often just an explosion covering over the quieter inner implosion of feeling powerless. Rage may give us a feeling of power and control, but how often is it an evasion of the sense of powerlessness that feels so much worse?
"We all dread the helplessness of losing control; yet, real freedom lies in recognizing the futility of demanding that life be within our control. Instead, we must learn the willingness to feel — to say yes to — the experience of helplessness itself. This is one of the hidden gifts of serious illness or loss. It pushes us right to our edge, where we may have the good fortune to realize that our only real option is to surrender to our experience and let it just be.
"During a three-year period in the early 1990s when I was seriously ill, with no indication that I would ever get better, I watched my life as I had known it begin to fall apart. I not only lost my ability to work and engage in physical activities but also experienced a dismantling of my basic identities. At first, it was disorienting and frightening not to have the props of seeing myself as a Zen practitioner, a carpenter and contractor (my livelihood), a husband and a father. But as I stayed with the fears, and particularly as I was able to bring the quality of Being Kindness to the experience, there came a dramatic shift.
"As the illusory self-images were stripped away, I experienced the freedom of not needing to be anyone at all. By truly surrendering to the experience of helplessness, by letting everything I clung to just fall apart, I found that what remained was more than enough. Naturally, as I got better, my identities tried to put themselves back in place, but, like Humpty Dumpty, the protective cocoon of a 'me' would never be quite the same. As we learn to breathe fear into the center of the chest, the heart feels more and more spacious. I'm not talking about the heart as a muscle in our chest, but rather the heart that is our true nature. This heart is more spacious than the mind can ever imagine."
by Ezra Bayd


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lea

By Thomas Merton, Roman Catholic priest


God of Mercy, be with the tens of thousands of people who have contracted the coronavirus around the world. Comfort those whose loved ones have died. Bring peace to those living with uncertainty after perhaps being exposed to the virus. Give patience to those who are quarantined and unable to move freely in their communities.
Wise and Faithful Guide, watch over and protect other people from catching this deadly virus. Strengthen those who are risking their own lives to care for sick patients.
May we all be filled with compassion for those who are suffering.

By Mary Ann Brussat, January, 2020


Holy One, these are such hard times, such painful times for so many. We feel the weight of the virus and we wonder how long. We feel the weight of systemic injustice that is killing our siblings of color and we wonder how long. We cry out for mercy, for justice, for healing. And you have made us in your own image, holy, good, and capable. You have given us hands and feet and voices and hearts. Teach us to hang in there, to do our best, to work and speak for justice and to rest when we are weary, while staying focused on love. Sustain us, renew us, reimagine us and restore us for all that you call us to do and be in your world. Amen.

Offered by Pastor Leigh Weber, Vashon Presbyterian Church


A Prayer for Going Deeper

O Divine Presence,
I do not enter the deeper realm
All by myself.
Always you are there with me
As a Guide to protect and direct me,
As a Loving Companion to embrace and support me,
As a Wise One to provide both challenge and solace

O Divine Presence,
As I go deeper to discover my roots,
Wrap me in your love.
Strengthen me as I face fear and insecurity,

O Divine Presence,
As I go deeper to discover my roots,
Wrap me in your love.
Strengthen me as I face fear and insecurity,

O Divine Presence,
As I go deeper to discover my roots,
Wrap me in your love.
Strengthen me as I face fear and insecurity,
Surprise me with hidden treasures
Waiting within me.

O Divine Presence,
When I feel shaky and uncertain
From seeking and searching,
Assure me often
That I am always rooted in your love.
Remind me often
That your love never leaves me,
Even when I lose the road
To my inner home.

O Divine Presence,
You desire my wholeness.
You would never lead me anywhere
That would destroy me.
Here is my life.
I place it in your care

As I commit myself to going deeper.
by Joyce Rupp, Roman Catholic nun


Prayer for Healers

May the One who blessed our ancestors
Bless all those who put themselves at risk to care for the sick
Physicians and nurses and orderlies
Technicians and home health aides
EMTs and pharmacists
Hospital social workers and respiratory therapists
(Please include other frontline healthcare workers. And bless especially _____)
Who navigate the unfolding dangers of the world each day,
To tend to those they have sworn to help.
Bless them in their coming home and bless them in their going out.
Ease their fear. Sustain them.
Source of all breath, healer of all beings,
Protect them and restore their hope.
Strengthen them, that they may bring strength;
Keep them in health, that they may bring healing.
Help them know again a time when they can breathe without fear.
Bless the sacred work of their hands.
May this plague pass from among us, speedily and in our days

By Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen


Glory be to  you, O God,
for the gift of life
unfolding through those who have gone before me.
Glory be to you, O God,
for your life planted within my soul
and in every soul coming into the world.
Glory be to you, O God,
for the grace of new beginnings
placed before me in every moment and encounter of life.
Glory, glory, glory
for the grace of new beginnings in every moment of life.

By J. Philip Newell


O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your Love supporting us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The “Holden Prayer”, from Holden Village, an intentional Christian community in the Glacier Peak Wilderness,  near Chelan


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer


Spirit of kindness, breathe into us. Breathe into our lungs, fill us fully, settling our spirits and releasing our stress. Deeply taking you in, peace, honor, love, calm. And as we exhale, releasing our stress, the tension in our bodies and spirits. Breathing you in deeply. Settle us, God. Calm us. Center us. Be. Be in us. Be with us. Breathing together, in and out, fully, deeply. Spirit of kindness, breathe into us. Amen.

Offered by Leigh Weber, pastor, Vashon Presbyterian Church


Loving Spirit of Goodness, we stand before you as people of hope. We stand before you realizing how much we belong to one another just as you intended. Fill us with compassion and care for others, sustain those who work on the front lines of this virus. And sustain those who fill our streets, peacefully marching for justice for all of your people. God, we pray for strength and protection and courage for all of our medical workers, those who keep hospitals clean, who prepare food, who do the work of creating those places of healing. Remind us that even ordinary things are important, like wearing masks and keeping our distance. Remind us that our actions matter and have consequences. Make us to be good stewards of our own agency as we work with you to imagine the Realm of God on Earth. Amen.

Offered by Leigh Weber, Pastor, Vashon Presbyterian Church


Breathe deep
When we can.
Because we can.
Remember where
Our breath comes from.
Give thanks.
Remember those
Who cannot breathe.
Remember those
Whose breath has
been taken.
Take action
When we can
because we can.

Offered by Julie Clarke, on retreat on Maury Island, June 4, 2020


Angels in Blue Gowns

Angels in blue gowns,

They wear face masks instead of haloes.

Their gloved holy hands administer to us

Care we are too weak to provide for ourselves.

Without sleep,

Without hope of a day off,

In the face of ever-dwindling supplies,

They risk their lives at every moment

In order to save ours.

Blessed are the hands,

Rubbed raw from washing,

That connect us to ventilators.

Blessed are the feet,

Sore and swollen,

That tread the ER floors.

Blessed are the eyes

That have stared down death

Hundreds,

Thousands of times,

And yet look upon each desperately ill patient

And refuse to give up hope.

God Most Merciful,

Preserve the health and safety

Of those who work so hard to preserve ours.

Amen.

by Cameron Belm


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

From the 12 Step program


A Blessing for Courage

When the light around lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,
When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,
When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world.
Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,
Know that you are not alone,
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes,
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.
Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.
Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.
A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

by John O’Donahue


I PRAY WE DON’T GO BACK TO NORMAL

I pray that the next time a friend grabs me and
pulls me in for a hug, I actually take the time to
appreciate the gift of their embrace.

I pray that when school resumes and people are
dropping kids off, they take the time to thank the
staff for the amazing gift that they give to our
community.

I pray that the next time I’m sitting in a crowded
restaurant I take the time to look around at the
smiling faces, loud voices and thank God for the
gift of community.

I pray that the next time I’m standing in church
listening to the voices of praise and worship that I
take a moment to thank God for the gift of
congregation.

I pray that the next time I see a person or
situation that needs prayer, I hope I pray as
passionately and fervently as I have these past
few weeks.

I pray that when I am at the grocery store that I
take a moment to thank God that He provides
us with the necessities of life and the amazing people
who work so hard to keep us supplied.

I pray that I never again take for granted the
ability to hope in the car and visit a friend, go to the
mall, go to a gathering, etc.

So, truth is, I don’t want things to return to the way they once were. I pray that we take the lessons and challenges of the past few weeks and create a new normal.
My goal is to pray more, love harder and truly appreciate the daily abundance of blessings that were so easily overlooked just a mere few weeks ago.
Be blessed Today!

From Facebook, by Linda Coetzee


 

Gracious Spirit, you made each of us in your image. You gave each of us sacred worth. Yet too many of our sisters and brothers have their worth diminished and too many others stay silent while it happens. Merciful one, remind us of the importance of our voice. Remind us of the importance of our witness. Empower us to stand up and speak truth to power, just as Jesus modeled for us. If any of our siblings isn’t safe, there is still work to be done. Remind us of that daily and fill our hearts with energy to stand up and proclaim that all of your children, every single one, have sacred worth. Protect our siblings of color and show us the way to work for the day when there is justice for all. Amen
Offered by Leigh Weber, pastor, Vashon Presbyterian Church


May 13th Tiny Prayer (for those who are tired of looking at screens):
May you remember that, just as with life outside your home, when your body, brain, and eyes are weary, you can take a break from the glare, the stress, the relentless push to be connected, you can say, “No, thank you,” to invitations, you can limit a typically hour-long meeting to thirty minutes, you can be honest with yourself and with one another about the fact that having tools to communicate can simultaneously be mightily amazing and mightily tiresome, and you can power down, reschedule, and pick it all back up another day. Amen

May 12th Tiny Prayer (for Dr. Anthony Fauci):
May you feel gratitude surround you today as you hold firm to your own expert opinion, certain that you have done the work, knowing that you have already grieved the fact that you will be further maligned by many and balanced that sorrow with the assurance that you will also continue to be the voice of radical reason for many more, and may your message of ultimately hopeful caution spread more quickly than this virus, changing hearts, minds, and the current course of human history. Amen

May 11th Tiny Prayer (for those who are losing patience):
May you seek ways to trade in that growing feeling of irritability for a deeper sense of humor, not because any of this is funny, but because the gift of not taking oneself too seriously might just clear away the debilitating dread of unnecessarily critical self-focus and nurture the space, time, energy, and lightness we need to take our commitments to the rest of the world a bit more seriously. Amen

May 10th Tiny Prayer (for those who mother in myriad ways):
May you feel the love and nurture you pour into the world come flooding back to you in waves of gratitude, of patience, of commitment to interdependence, and may we all remember that the power of mothering is most profoundly felt in subtle, simple nudges, like reminders to take care of one another, to listen, to ask for what we need, to admit to our mistakes, to try again, and to wash our hands. Amen

May 8th Tiny Prayer (for those who are feeling lonely):
May you give yourself ample time to discover new ways to hold yourself, new ways to appreciate what good company you are for yourself, new ways to reshape monotony into moments of quiet, affectionate self-reflection, and when those ways do fail (and they do sometimes), may you have the self-assurance to reach out to another, someone who will probably say, “Oh, thanks for reaching out! I was getting a little lonely.” Amen

May 7th Tiny Prayer (for those in states that are reopening):
May you be enveloped in safety, and when you know in your heart that your leaders and fellow citizens aren’t aiding in that, may you have the strength and means to envelop yourself in safety, finding ways to steer clear of crowds, to model mask-wearing, and to spread wisdom in a country that can’t seem to wrap its collective brain around the simple facts that lives are always more important than money and that boredom should never be the basis of any decision. Amen

Offered by Micah Bucey, United Church of Christ pastor, New York City, 2020


Praise Song for the Pandemic

Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,
Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,
Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,
Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,
Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance,
Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, all the medicine makers, praise be the journalists keeping us informed,
Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afar, and blessings on parents holding it together for them,
Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, praise for those who stay at home to protect them,
Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lock down with abusers, the homeless and refugees,
Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color,
Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort, Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown gnawing,
Blessed are those in grief, especially who mourn alone, blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night,
Praise for police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind,
Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distance, give thanks for laughter and kindness,
Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love,
Praise for the seas and rivers, forests and stones who teach us to endure,
Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood,
Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism,
Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness,
Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day, praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth, blessed is the air clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again,
And when this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.

By Christine Valters Painter, 2020


Prayer for Our Community

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
By Richard Rohr, Roman Catholic Priest, 2020


Prayer for a Pandemic

God our Sanctuary,
gather us when separated into your presence.
God our Physician,
heal those who have contracted the virus.
God our Comforter,
embrace all who mourn the dead.
God our Homeland,
mother all who are quarantined.
God our Friend,
accompany all who are alone or afraid.
God our Guardian,
protect physicians and nurses.
God our Hope,
assist researchers searching for a vaccine.
God our Mighty Fortress,
preserve our societies from devastation.
God our Governor,
guide the leaders of nations toward wise policies.

God of Everlasting Arms,
in you we live and move and have our being.
God our Creator,
make once again a world of sabbath rest.
God our Savior,
redeem the suffering world by your cross.
God our Light,
shine your radiant peace into our darkness.

O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

bless and preserve us. Amen.

requested by and written for the World Council of Churches, 2020

"Lord, I place myself in your presence, and ask you to shine your light into my heart as I look back upon this day, so I may see more clearly your grace in everything that has happened."

by Ted Chiang, submitted by islander Tom Land


That wisdom that was born with me in the womt
thanks be to you, O God
That your ways have been written into 
the human body and soul
there to be read and reverenced
thanks be to you.
Let me be attentive
to the truths of these living texts.
Let me learn 
of the law etched into the whole of creation
that gave birth to the mystery of life
and feeds and renews it day by day.
Let me discern the law of love in my own heart
and in knowing it
obey it.
Let me be set free by love, O God.
Let me be set free to love.

By J. Philip Newell