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.

O God, I Need Thee

I Need Thy Sense of Time
Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.

Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends

And am completely without patience. It is hard for me
to realize that some growth is slow,
that all processes are not swift. I cannot always discriminate

between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,
because my sense of time is dulled.
I measure things in terms of happenings.

O to understand the meaning of perspective

that I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure – of


I Need Thy Sense of Order

The confusion of the details of living
Is sometimes overwhelming. The little things
keep getting in my way providing ready-made

excuses for failure to do and be
what I know I ought to do and be.

Much time is spent on things that are not very important
while significant things are put into an insignificant place

in my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs
so that my life will become order. O God, I need

Thy sense of order.

I Need Thy Sense of the Future
Teach me to know that life is ever

on the side of the future.

Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope,
the onward surge. Let me not be frozen

either by the past or the present.

Grant me, O patient Father, Thy sense of the future

without which all life would sicken and die.

— Spiritual Practice by Howard Thurman
Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans

Photo by Barb Gustafson

God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from ‘the Falconer’.
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.

By Richard Rohr, fall 2020

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W. B. Yeats
A prayer poem based on W. B. Yeats “The Second Coming”

What the Pandemic Is Saying to the World

Humanity, you are all One.

You are one beloved community,

and you are one global sickness.
You are all contagious—and always have been,

unconsciously infecting and yet able to also bless one another.

There are no higher and lower in this world.
There is no smart or stupid; no totally right or totally wrong.

The only meaningful division is between those who serve

and those who allow themselves to be served.

All the rest is temporary posturing.

Many to whom you look for power and leadership

have shown themselves to have empty hands, minds, and hearts.

We are bereft of all satisfying explanations,

all ledgers of deserving and undeserving.
There are no perfect answers or absolute heroes.

We must all wear a mask to protect the other from “me.”

Don’t play the victim!
Victimhood is always a waste of time—God’s time and yours.

Instead, try to learn the important lessons.

We are all in the same elementary school now.

Here, we must learn to stand in two different places
and to change places often.

The served must also be the servants,
and the servants must also be the served.

Just stay in the eternal circle of the Suffering and the Servants.

Christians call it the Body of Christ.

We are not the first or the last generation
that gets to suffer and to serve on this earth.

By Richard Rohr, Roman Catholic priest and writer

Photo by Candy Gamble

Reflections After Compline

What we want is power,
What we get is frailty;
What we want is certainty,
What we get is ambiguity;
What we want is answers,
What we get is questions;
What we want is self-sufficiency,
What we get is interdependence;
What we want is permanence,
What we get is transience;
What we want is clarity,
What we get is mystery;
What we want is fantasy –
What we get is God.

By Sue Stock, Greenville, Mississippi, 1996, offered by islander Carla Pryne.

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

Photo by Candy Gamble

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

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

Photo by Barb Gustafson

IN THE RISING of the sun, and in its going down, we remember them.
From the moment I wake till I fall asleep, all that I do is remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
On the frigid days of winter and the moments I breathe the cold air, I warm myself with their embrace, and remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
As the days grow longer and the outside becomes warmer, I am more awake and I remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
When I look above and see the images of the clouds and when I am comforted by the sun that shines down on me, I remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
From the time in which I feel the cool, crisp breeze and see the colors of the leaves, I remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
On the day I make resolutions for myself and on the day I reflect upon how I’ve grown, I remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
As I am faced with challenges that enter my life, I remember all that they taught me, and remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When I have gone astray and feel uncomfortable, I ask for help and remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
From those times of celebration, love, and happiness, I remember them.
So long as they live, we, too, shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
On every day, and in every way, I know that they are with me and I remember them.

P.J. Schwartz rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Offered by islander Carol Spangler

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

Photo by Barb Gustafson

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


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.


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

Photo by Barb Gustafson


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

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

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

Photo by Barb Gustafson

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


A Prayer in a Time of Pandemic

Gracious God, to whom our needs are known before we ask:
we pray for strength and courage to meet the days ahead.
May your arms of love guide us through this strange land.
Teach us the power of stillness and of deep listening.
Open our eyes and broaden our vision.
Help us to let go of those things that no longer serve us,
and to welcome new ways of connecting, of sharing,
and of showing our love and care for others.
We pray for our sisters and brothers around the globe.
Together we walk through this storm asking for awakened hearts.
Guide us, O Lord, and show us your ways.
We ask these prayers in the name of the One who suffers with us,
in the name of Christ who is the bread of life and the hope of the world.

A by the Rev. Dianne Andrews, Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Port Townsend which her congregation has prayed weekly since April, 2020

Photo by Candy Gamble

Tiny Prayers for Protesters and Prophet

Micah Bucey is a United Church of Christ minister in New York City.

October 8th Tiny Prayer (for those who fear that their vote won’t count):

May you stay vigilant about voter suppression, outreach, registration, and turnout, but while you wait and worry about the numbers, may you also think of your own vote as a sacred spiritual offering, not simply one tiny piece within a vast system, but a love-filled representation of the vastness of your own heart, a prayerful symbol of your continuing commitment to nudging this country into transformation, a hope-fueled vessel for the change you wish to see in the world, and as you cast your own vision into the sea of visions, may it open you up to an invigorating understanding of just how necessary your participation always is.

October 5th Tiny Prayer (for those who just don’t know what to believe anymore):

May you remember that, beyond the gaslighting, beyond the equivocating, beyond the trickery, there are truths that transcend, truths that you know deep in your soul, truths that you feel deep in your heart, truths that you actively embody every time you listen for the still, small voice inside you and connect it to the voices within those around you, stepping away from narcissism and nationalism, questioning your own assumptions and privileges, and continuously co-creating new ways for truth to reveal itself and rise above the lies.

October 3rd Tiny Prayer (for those who were already having difficulty focusing before adding the chaos of these past weeks):

May you remember that your life is far larger than the glare of the fickle news cycle, may you deeply know that, beyond the outrage, the confusion, the gaslighting, and the shifting predictions, your work, and the gifts you bring to it, are essential, your health is essential, your care for yourself and others is essential, and even as the stories continue to unfurl, double back, drift away, distract, digress, and die, may you keep your mind set on what is most essential to you, pour your energy into everything and everyone you love, and continue to keep your heart’s vision focused on those new horizons we are currently conjuring together.

October 1st Tiny Prayer (for those who need some quiet):
May you not take yourself so seriously that you feel you must constantly contribute to the noise, may you trust that the community can sustain itself while you take some time for yourself, may you step away and approach this moment intentionally, turning off screens, devices, the constant nagging voices in your head, and whether you are able to do this for a day, an hour, or even just a minute, may you breathe in the calm you wish to encounter in the world, breathe that calm back out into a world that rarely admits that it needs it, and may your moment of self-care inspire a chain of care that transcends the babble and lifts it into a new realm of collective communication.

September 30th Tiny Prayer
May you allow yourself to ache, to be horrified, enraged, scared, and sad, but may you not lose yourself, your hope, or your own voice in the noise of it all, may your own spirit’s need to be lifted inspire you to lift the spirits of those around you, may your own scrambling for strategy point you toward the organizers who can help focus and sustain your energy, and may your fear for the future bring you back to the present, a place where you have connections, resources, and multiple ways to combine your horror, outrage, fear, and grief, breathe your longing for new life into them, and recommit to co-creating the country that is aching to be born.
humbly knowing that repair is needed and confidently knowing that the lasting authentic strength of a relationship rests on how openly we can admit to falling short and recommit to the long haul, may you not force forgiveness or acceptance, but instead listen for how your offering of amends is heard, and as you work to rebuild trust, may you trust your own growing creative ability to take the lessons you are learning and humbly, confidently shape them into new ways forward.

September 27th Tiny Prayer (for those who don’t know where they fit in):

May you realize that we are all always hovering somewhere between confidently claiming our places in the world and fearing that we have no home to call our own, that none of us truly feel that we fit in without fail, may you start with what you do know, that you want to make connection, just like most people around you, may you move from there to outreach, finding those whose openness starts to give you a sense of belonging, may you challenge yourself to speak up about the things you care about and encourage those who speak up to you, and may this supportive act begin to build shared shelter that is big enough to house all of us, each taking our place and leaving room for everyone else to find theirs. 

September 26th Tiny Prayer (for those who don’t know where to put all of their nervous energy):

May you gather up these sparks that keep you so on edge and pour them all into your passions, may you reserve a bit for your own creativity and may you take the rest, reach out to those who are fighting for the change you wish to see, and ask how your spirit, commitment, and talents might best serve a larger cause, and even when you have found directions for this electric flow, may you continue to listen to your body as it tells you when to be still before you burn out, and may you marvel at how the connection of this voltage within you to the currents of collective transformation around you channels hope in ways never possible if you tried to contain it.

September 24th Tiny Prayer (for those who are mad as Hell):

May you not lose yourself in this shadowed valley between rage and grief, but instead observe how many of us are wandering this wilderness with you, may you never deny this inflamed feeling, but when you feel yourself about to be consumed by the heat, may you reach out to those who are collectively blazing ways out of these despairing depths, may you offer your rage as a gift to these uprisings, listening to those who can help you organize your anger into action and focus your fear into sustained attention, and may you not reach for hope before you’re ready, but may you invite the communal striving for it to keep you climbing out of the fire.

September 23rd Tiny Prayer (for those who feel pulled in too many directions):
May you stop and breathe, simply and steadily, trusting that the world’s spinning does not rely on you spinning, that there is a difference between what you feel must get done and what actually must get done, that there is a distinction between necessity and noise, may you choose the next thing that deserves your attention, addressing it carefully and calmly, and when you have reached a pausing place with that thing, may you choose the next thing, building a pattern of patience over panic, depth over dithering, and may you surprise yourself with how much can be done when you realize that you don’t have to do it all.

September 19th Tiny Prayer (for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg):

Thank you for your fierce and fabulous life, for the trails you blazed, for the commitment to truth you embodied, for the defiance you offered your naysayers, for the strength, breath, energy, and spirit you diligently contributed to our continuing fights for justice, and as you rest in the power you have so vigilantly earned, may we loudly grieve with your loved ones, may we loudly celebrate your legacy, and may we invite your beloved memory to reignite the fires of our political passion, to resurrect our belief that persistence can win, to nudge our hearts into devoted gear to vote, to strategize, to organize, and to make you continuously proud of who we all can be when we put our deep mourning, our deep admiration, and our deep gratitude to work.

September 18th Tiny Prayer (for those who fear speaking their truth):
May you remember that your authentic voice is necessary, that you are not simply a receptacle for others’ ideas, opinions, and anger, but a living, breathing being with your own organic wisdom to offer, may you open your heart to listening for where you might learn and where you might teach, for that sweet spot where humility and honesty meet, and may you balance both with every word you utter, assured that this dynamic act will bring you clarity, so that you may bring clarity to those who need to hear it.

September 17th Tiny Prayer (for Dawn Wooten):

May you feel surrounded by gratitude and safety as we thank you for your courage and you prepare for the backlash, may you stand firm in your resolve to tell the truth, to shed light on sick, shadowy practices, to risk your own life in order to rehumanize those who have been so dehumanized, and even on days when your bravery dips, may you always deeply know how lovingly you have changed the world, how boldly you have underlined our need to pay attention, how valiantly you have modeled for us all how to remain human amidst systems that threaten to strip us of humanity, how to amplify our voices amidst the brutal banality of evil that continues to feed on our silence.

August 28th Tiny Prayer (for Anthony Huber):

Thank you for your courageous life, for embodying conviction and solidarity, for putting your body on the line to protect your fellow justice-seekers, and as we mourn your death and honor your conviction, may we not simply valorize your selfless act of heroism, but instead heed the clarion call for a deepening of our own participation, our own confidence, our own necessary commitment to pressuring the moral arc of the universe, in whatever huge and tiny ways we can, until it actually bends toward justice.

August 25th Tiny Prayer (for those who are seeking purpose):
May you observe the hurting world around you, the overwhelming news, the painful stories, the deep and continuing needs of your community, and may you choose small steps over big despair, not daring to think that you’ll save everyone and everything in one move (or even one hundred moves), but starting where your own natural gifts might be most helpful, a call, a donation, a volunteer shift, a grace-filled gesture, and may you allow yourself to be awed by the simple, the doable, the actionable options that are hovering right in front of you, aching to be embodied. Amen

By Micah Bucey,Offered by islander Carla Pryne

Photo by Barb Gustafson


On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble, may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours,
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O’Donohue
Offered by islander Carol Ellis

Reflections After Compline

What we want is power,
What we get is frailty;
What we want is certainty,
What we get is ambiguity;
What we want is answers,
What we get is questions;
What we want is self-sufficiency,
What we get is interdependence;
What we want is permanence,
What we get is transience;
What we want is clarity,
What we get is mystery;
What we want is fantasy –
What we get is God.

By Sue Stock, Greenville, Mississippi, 1996, offered by islander Carla Pryne.

Photo by Barb Gustafson

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