Prayers that Rise

November 20, 2013

There’s a bitter irony in what Jesus said in the gospel last Sunday. This is especially true when you consider that the same scriptures were read here in the islands of the Philippines where the super storm struck so recently. Jesus told those wondering at the beauty of the temple that not one stone of that beautiful temple would be left upon another.

Many Filipinos, if they were able, worshipped in the open air or in tents because their churches, their own temples of prayer, had been destroyed, not a “stone left upon another stone,” their sanctuaries having fallen victim to a disaster we call “natural.” She was named Haiyan!

Not only their churches have fallen victim to Haiyan, their loved ones and homes fell as well.

I share with you my meditation on that day:

I wonder, Lord, what it was like to go to church
in Leyte and Samar, in Tacloban last Sunday.

How many churches fell as
Typhoon Haiyan’s holy victims?

How many of Your Churches have become morgues?
Chapels now made into hospitals?
Pews that now are beds?
How many altars are hung with laundry
and aisles filled with orphans?

Were people able worship You in what’s left of nature’s sanctuary:
in tents or under tarps?
And who will come to gather
the huddled masses waiting, far too long
for water and for food, for medicine and care;
waiting in long lines
for some sweet sign of hope…
What did they pray for last Sunday morning?

Were they able to sing a hymn to your name?
Was it a psalm of praise, or maybe a sorrowful lament?
Were they able to listen to the scriptures?
What did they hear you speak in your Word?
Were they able to share the Body of Christ
when no other daily bread is to be had?

Lord, what was it like to face You
amidst the destruction that Sunday morning?
To turn to You and wonder,
“Did You really turn away as Haiyan roared
through cities, towns and villages,
through families and their homes,
through the flesh and blood
of those you call your own beloved?”

Listen carefully, Lord, as I know You will,
for the prayers uttered in painful silence,
the prayers offered in tears,
the prayers offered in cries of pain
and the prayers that rise from places in the heart
known only to you
and the one who prays…