by Catherine Malotky—

God, it has been a very, very long couple of years. We have labored at life through contentious political conflict, a life-threatening pandemic, the trauma of watching George Floyd and many others extinguished before our eyes, and continuing conversations around anti-racism and justice for all. Our climate is taking us to extremes in frightening ways—a lack of rain, too many fires, desiccating heat, melting polar ice and whipped-up storms. Too many lives are being snuffed out by community violence and gunfire. Over and over again we offer our prayers and wonder where this will take us. Some of us arm ourselves, an illusion of shelter against the storm.

We are vulnerable, God. We are vulnerable to the subtle ways we are influenced by the media we choose to absorb. We are vulnerable to the opinions of others. We are vulnerable to the choices of others about vaccinations, use of violence and the definition of ecological vitality. We are vulnerable, and it seems more and more that our very lives are at stake.

You promised a Paraclete, God—your Spirit of Truth to abide with us. It is hard to remember this promise when our screens are chock full of bad news, when we worry about sharing air, protecting our children and keeping ourselves safe. It is hard to trust that you have made us all, regardless of our convictions and choices. And it is very hard to remember that you love me, especially when someone else so easily demeans me, rejects my worldview and cares little for those things that are tender for me.

Our anger is right at the surface because we are vulnerable. How does your Spirit protect us in our vulnerability? Plenty of my Christian kin would call down your wrath to smite those who differ from their worldview—a worldview that says there is only one prescribed way to live. For those of us who diverge, life has been relegated to the margins, and opportunity and honor are limited by our difference.

Yet anger is the bluster that camouflages our vulnerability. Anger digs us in deeper instead of honoring our fear and tenderness.

Can I trust your Spirit, God, to intervene? Our anger is killing us, little by little, denial by denial, adrenaline rush by adrenaline rush, and sometimes, tragically, in an explosion of rage. Might your Spirit be calling us back to our soft bellies, the tender places where we are in pain, where we weep, where we are afraid? Might your Spirit alight on us with an invitation to take the risk to hold our tender selves with love and ask how we might help? Might your Spirit be inviting us to choose curiosity before judgment, inclusion before exclusion, community health before individual wealth, and an openness to what new wonders you have in store? Might your Spirit be the hope we so need to make our way through these touchy times?

Open our hearts to trust in you, to welcome you, to lean on you, dear Advocate. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Rev. Catherine Malotky is an ELCA pastor, retired from full-time paid work for the sake of dear relationships and interests.

This article is from the September/October 2021 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather