This time yesterday, I was tweeting about the peacefulness and joy of being close to bees. I went to bed reflecting upon the beauty and wonder of our world.
This morning, that peace was shattered as the world woke up to the horror of the #Manchester bomb attack. Like most of us, it was impossible to begin to believe what had happened. Our hearts immediately transported to the victims, their families and friends and all those whose lives were changed in a split second through this cowardly, senseless and yes, evil, act. People like us who had just a few hours ago, also been going about their lives.
The phrase “thoughts and prayers” began to fill timelines and tributes on television and radio..an appropriate response in times of distress and trauma. #PrayForManchester began trending on Twitter.
Sometimes only the word, “thoughts”, as though somehow, to say ” prayers” would be pushing things a little too far in our secular society. More on that a little later.
Early on, I went to the supermarket and was struck by the quietness, people were noticeably subdued … in Cornwall we are 200 or so miles away from Manchester, and yet the bond of compassion was there, unspoken, but uniting us.
An example once again of the “shared humanity” that I remember in the immediate aftermath of the Harrods bomb, all those years ago.
Examples of that bond of compassion, empathy and love for each other also shown in the accounts of the free lifts, accommodation and kindness shown to strangers in Manchester in the last few hours.
I’m listening to an interview with a rabbi now, who says “there are no words” to describe the barbarity of what has happened in Manchester. He is right, but it brings me back to one little word : #prayer.
#Prayer : shall I say it, should I not?
Will people think I am slightly odd if I say it? Slightly on a different planet, not really a part of our modern, current, up to the minute, world?
#Prayer: is it something that should be preserved and acceptable only for church-goers and the middle-aged and elderly, people from a less “enlightened” era?
#Prayer : It’s a small word, not even two syllables long.
And yet, in times of tragedy and pain we turn to the word, prayer, as our appropriate response.
That is the strength of the word and the power of what it encourages us to do and to think about.
But it’s only a little word…. can it really work and really make a difference?
Or is it a token nod to signal our understanding and show we care about a situation?
How can prayer really help ease the desperate pain of families who have lost their children and who are staring into the abyss of a future without them?
If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have struggled to see that it could really help at all and would have seen it as yes, just a well-meaning word.
But I have changed and I believe increasing numbers of us have too.
And as we recognise the reality of our vulnerable world, we need to also recognise that prayer is a supremely powerful tool, right there within each one of us.
And it is our beacon of light which used collectively, will overcome the weak, dark forces which seek to fracture our lives.
So, let’s use the terrible events in Manchester as a catalyst, as a challenge to ourselves.
Let us be brave and not fearful.
Let us say the word, Prayer, loudly and let us do what it asks us to do.
Let us recognise Prayer not just as a word, but as a transforming act which will connect and unite us.
Let all of us, whether we have #faith or no faith, open our hearts and our arms, stop for a few moments, feel the strength, love and compassion deep within ourselves and let us pray and #PrayForManchester…
Deliver us from evil,
#Thy Kingdom Come…….
Thank you for reading this…..I am also drawn to the first part of #Psalm 27 at this time, which I will copy below, if you want to have a look at that,
” The Lord is my light and my salvation-
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life-
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
When my enemies and foes attack me,
They will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident. “