(See also version on episcopal cafe)
Since I am uneasy in big crowds, I opted not to attend the Women’s March in DC. , and instead to follow a strong urge I was feeling to be at prayer as this new administration comes into office. So I reached out to some of the other prayer-ministers and members of my parish, the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, and we advertised a Multi-cultural prayer vigil Since we were put on the map as one of the first sites of post-election racist graffiti, it seemed like a good place to assemble people for a multicultural vigil, to offer prayers for the day, and the work ahead for the nation.
So, without much of a structure, we opened the church from 10-4. One of the women prepared a simple soup luncheon, so we could break for conversation and fellowship at midday, and over the course of the time about 15 people came and went, mostly from Our Saviour but with a few supporters from the surrounding community. We took turns leading prayers at the top of the hour, and followed explicit prayer times with times of sitting together in silence. Our prayer styles ranged from meditative silence to spirit-filled singing to spontaneous prayers for the causes that were on our hearts. As the day went on, periods of silence were filled with spontaneous singing, and people calling out hymn numbers from the Lift Every Voice & Sing hymnals we had in the pews. “We’re Marching to Zion,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arm, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone.” “My anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.” Being in the company of people who are gifted “prayer-warriors” was a rich gift to me, and I was glad to have thought of gathering in this place, on this day. I contributed by opening and closing the proceedings and also produced a litany of prayers based on the vision statement from theWomen’s March organizers. We prayed that together – and several people commented that they’d like to take it home and use it further, so I’m also posting it here in case other prayer or worshipping groups find it useful.
We also offered prayers of thanksgiving, coming out of time spent looking through the many, many supportive cards and letters that had come to Our Saviour after the graffiti incident in November, messages from all over the country: California, Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado, Illinois as well as from near neighbors in the Muslim and Jewish communities and other schools and churches in our area I suggested that people read through and bless those whose notes we read, as I do when I read through my Christmas cards: it was a good way to remember how many people in our country have good hearts and are drawn to compassion and solidarity. The Women’s March also reflected that, strong solidarity, and so the prayer vigil was for us gathered there a profound experience of contemplation and action. I hope that this practice of prayer, undergirding and supporting political activism, will continue to provide us with strength for the work ahead.