Dearest Ukraine, here’s For Peace by John O’Donohue

Here’s a prayer and love letter to beloved Ukrainians longing for peace and safety and the brave Russians who oppose this gut wrenching war.

For Peace by John O’Donohue

May all that is strained in us come to ease.

We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.

For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.

That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.

That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.

That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.

That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares

And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher

From his book, Benedictus

“For Grief” by John O’Donohue

For today, for yesterday, for tomorrow — for the military families grieving their dearest, for the Afghanis catching their breath in chaos, for those waking up in darkness after Ida. For all the losses you have suffered…may this bring some solace. 
“For Grief” by John O’Donohue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.


“For Grief” by John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (Doubleday, 2008).

A look back to look forward…and where do I find myself in this story?

The past couple of days I’ve been heartbroken by how the deep divides of our nation have been expanded and exploited. I’ve been gutted by the assault on our democracy fueled by those tasked to unite us.

I’m asking myself: how do I show up to this historic story? I’m still in the throes of the question…but I am reflecting on how my work with story can serve as a salve to promote dignity, empathy and connection. As I try to understand the story unfolding in our midst I find it helpful to look back and get context.
I appreciated this video by Vox as a bit of meaning-making to the story we’ve been living this past year. It’s a power-packed 7-mins representing such an intense year.
Watching the video of the past year I was struck by the immense amount of disruption and conflict…and the courage of so many. There’s an idea in story structure that conflict is best used: 1. to reveal how much the hero wants what he/she is pursuing; and 2: to show the true character of the hero.
So, I am not without hope. I see courageous and grace-filled heroes all around me, showing up more committed to peace and justice than ever. That’s the story I long to live more into…one with an unrelenting love for my neighbor that grows stronger under duress. May it be so.

Wait. Hope. Love. Advent in this strange, strange year…

Some days it feels like I’ve been waiting a lifetime. I’ve prayed ten-thousand prayers, “Please God, now . . .won’t you?”


Years of waiting to marry and be a mom have stretched into two decades. There’s the waiting for my company to take off—for big dreams of contribution to come to life, and for me to have a steady income again. There’s the waiting for family members’ health to improve and relationships to be restored and friends’ children to get the help they need. There’s waiting for the vaccine and waiting for refugees’ I’ve interviewed to find a true home.


“Please God, now . . . won’t you?”


Those ten-thousand prayers have been pleas for life to be transformed to the way I long for it be—for the way I believe it should be. Waiting to not feel behind in life. Waiting to belong. Waiting for justice. Waiting for security. Waiting for love.


What have you been waiting for? What do you long for to be transformed? And I’m curious: What does waiting feel like in your whole being?


For me, waiting can feel like a daily street fight. Take a deep breath as I walk out the door. Clench my fists. Run as fast as I can through a gang of naysayers as they yell: You don’t deserve it. You’re all alone. Things never change. I swiftly, and sometimes sloppily, throw punches and try to block what is most vulnerable—my hopes, my dreams, my heart’s deepest longings.


For me, waiting can also feel like getting into a wreck on the way to a party. I’m so angry after dressing all up to go to a gathering I’ve been looking forward to and now I’m a bloody mess. My car is totaled. I’m exhausted and sad.


Yet, more often than not, waiting feels like a dodgeball game with Distraction. To not feel like I’m in a street fight or a car wreck, I keep myself busy and distracted. Work, and binge Netflix. Work, and listen to NPR and play solitaire until I have a quick win and feel like a champion again. Call a friend, text a few more. Then, back to work.


I am really curious how waiting feels to you.


In Psalm 130, the psalmist speaks of a different way of waiting than I often go about it. Waiting to the psalmist doesn’t feel like frenzy or despair, distraction or isolation. It’s a waiting that grounds itself in hope and grows in love.


Here’s how Psalm 130:7 in The Voice declares it:

O Israel, ground your hope in the Eternal.
For in the Eternal lives the most loyal love,

and with Him comes the most abundant redemption.


When I wait without hope in the Eternal I become “a hot mess in a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” Yes, I’m as composed as a 2020 presidential debate.


Yet, waiting profoundly shifts to hope when I remember one thing.


When I let myself be reminded that I’m not alone; when I ground my hope in the Eternal—I’m transformed.


God’s most loyal love reminds me that Immanuel (God with us) is for me. I don’t wait alone. I don’t have to make everything happen on my own. I am not alone.


God’s love invites me to hope, and hope expands my capacity to love . . . even in the elongated and excruciating seasons of waiting.


Through the years, I’ve discovered that I have to be intentional to do one thing: Let myself be reminded of God’s most loyal love. For me, that’s the only way my hope grounds itself.


Letting myself be reminded of God’s love can take a hundred forms. I’ll share a few that have been meaningful for me this year. And of course, I’m curious to hear yours.


Before I stumble out of bed, I listen to Pray as You Go (a free app that has British-accented Jesuits reading Scripture. I highly recommend it). Once coffee is made, I light a candle that sits next to an icon of Jesus and Mary. I read (sometimes just a snatch of Scripture); I journal my prayers (it keeps me more focused); and then I try to wait long enough to hear God’s voice of love for me. The Beloved naming me beloved.


This year I’ve been daily praying: God, expand my capacity to love and be loved.


I walk. I walk a lot. I find that when the sun brushes my cheeks, light shimmers through leaves, and dewy grass glistens that I am reminded of God’s most loyal love.


I lean on friends. One of the great gifts that has come from waiting for family has been cultivating a family of friends. A couple of months ago I realized that I was more desperate to be reminded of God’s love and grounded in hope than typical. I reached out to several friends and asked them to pray five minutes a week for my business and my heart. That has been such a powerful gift in this season.


I give thanks. Here’s a paradox: when I pause to note how much I have been given, waiting for what I long for loses some of its sting. I’m once again reminded of God’s most loyal love.


So, what are you waiting for?


And in the midst of the wait, how are you letting yourself be reminded of God’s most loyal love for you?


I leave you with this: You don’t wait alone.


That’s the story of Advent we enter into once again. Immanuel—God with us—is for us.


Right now.


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