Sometimes when we don't know how to pray, or what to say, we lean on the prayers that have gone before us.
As I have read about the 2,300 children separated from their parents on the US-Mexico border in the last month, I have prayed, "Lord, have mercy."
As I listened to a pediatrician report on a shelter that instructs its workers not to hold the youngest of immigrants, even if they are crying, I have prayed, "Christ have mercy."
Kyrie Elieson. This ancient prayer for God's intervention in a helpless state rings from the lips of a man known only as the son of Timaeus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke may have their differences (only one of them gives him a name), but they did agree on a few things things. He was blind. He was on the side of the road. He cried out for help. Jesus healed him.
The prayer is simple but powerful because we all stand in need of a grace we cannot earn: as individuals, as communities, as institutions. Within the prayer is a longing for transformation. It is a good prayer, the best of prayers, in the face of injustice.
Yet I longed for something more to pray. I searched the Scriptures and waited in contemplative silence and kept uttering the Kyrie Elieson. Then, as I watched my dog's nose lead him around the park from one scent to another, another prayer from the past came back to me.
The late Rich Mullins wrote "Let Mercy Lead," with his friend, Beaker, for Beaker's then-newborn son, Aidan. The first studio recording of the song includes the infant Aidan's joyful coos. I thought of the thousands of children separated from their parents not only at national borders but also because of opioid epidemics, violent crimes, addiction. Aidan's joyful coos on a clean-cut recording seem so far away from the real-time, frightened cries of the many, unknown names.
The "you" in Mullins' song is the singular child, Aidan, but his prayer is also a blessing for all God's children to follow mercy, to find strength in love, to reach beyond human reason into heavenly wisdom...
I found myself praying this song for our nation's leaders. For Attorney General Jeff Sessions. For Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. For President Donald Trump. For the many leaders who make numerous decisions on behalf of millions of people each day around the nation. We are all the infant, Aidan, in need of divine guidance. And we need to found our common ground "in that place where mercy leads."
Mercy may lead some of us to call our senators and representatives in Congress. Mercy may lead others to speak out in the media. Mercy may call us to pray. No matter where we are on the political spectrum, perhaps we can agree on the truth that all of us are the son of Timaeus, in need of mercy. In need of grace. In need of Jesus, who speaks and heals along the borders.
all good things to each of you,