Interruption: Praying for people near and far

I imagine that it hasn’t missed anyone’s notice who reads this blog that apart from the Fanstravaganza event, it’s been a rough week on Planet Earth. I believe and hope that laughing or smiling or thinking about Richard Armitage and his work helps a bit in dealing with these things, but of course, this blog is hardly the most important thing affecting us these days.

For me: Japan was much on my mind, both abstractly, and as a concrete issue, as I have a colleague there who’d already suffered a family tragedy (he and his family are okay, but watching with concern what is going on around them). Events in Japan distract us from the political struggles in North Africa and the Middle East, which in turn, the news media — the people who make a big, but also a scary, manipulative contribution to our sense that we are all bound up in this together — tell us, are distracting us at a bad time from an impending governmental crisis in Pakistan. At this moment of fiscal insecurity, plenty of big problems in the United States and the state of Texas where I work and the state of Wisconsin where most of my loved ones are — and the outcomes I hope for and those I hope don’t transpire — are occupying my free time. Then there are the personal issues, the things that are bigger than we can manage on our own, but which we don’t talk about when we’re blogging about Richard Armitage, sometimes precisely because it’s the experience of blogging that helps us deal with our lives. These things also require prayerful attention: the lost people we hope  to find, the sick people we hope will be healed, the suffering people we hope to comfort. I know I’m not the only one who has these issues in Armitageworld, which I means I know that readers of this blog have them, too. In light of our own personal matters, sometimes issues in the world strike us harder for particular reasons or we have to neglect them in favor of resolving problems close to home, but the big catastrophes happen nonetheless.

In the last years of my life, when it often seemed that everything was going wrong, I found increasingly that the only prayer I could pray for myself was “thy will be done” and the only prayer I could pray for others was “let those who are suffering be comforted.” I had to let go of thinking I could control anything by worrying about it.  And then I had to do what I could to deal with the problem of the moment.

I don’t have anything more to say than that, except that if you are currently among the suffering, I hope that you will be comforted. And that if you can, you will act to comfort others who are suffering in whatever way you are called to do so, whether that’s personally, financially, or with your time and energy. Don’t discount what you can do as too little. A donation to a relief organization helps the homeless — or helps make up the budget for another area of crisis when the charitable attention of the public is heavily focused on a particular crisis area. But it doesn’t have to be money. Even a friendly smile or a kind word to someone who’s suffering can make a difference in his day. And I firmly believe that prayer helps, too. Thinking of each other is not nothing.

Ultimately, we fail at it, because we are not perfect, but please, let us try to be as kind to each other as we can.


~ by Servetus on March 16, 2011.

35 Responses to “Interruption: Praying for people near and far”

  1. Ok!

  2. Amen. I firmly believe every little bit does help. I come from a county that is not wealthy, but gave above and beyond to help people passing through and looking for a place to settle after Katrina. Because we knew it could have been us, or our family or neighbors or friends. In this instances, there are, or there should be, no strangers. No man is an island . . .

    Small financial contributions to worthwhile charities, encouraging smiles, a pat on the back and a kind word all go a long way.

    I can honestly say I have felt other people’s prayers for me even when they had not told me they were praying. Just something inside . . .

  3. This post much appreciated.

    True, an RA blog might not be a forum for international/world affairs discussions. But we’re not immune to events far-flung. In the manner in which you present the issues (which we assume are not incompatible with what we see of Mr. A), it seems altogather appropriate. Quite worried about Pakistan, too. Bahrain, Saudi, all of it.

    The overriding issues are the grief, despair,and overwhelming challenges of those at the epicentres of these disasters. However we respond – prayer, donation, etc., we recognise that we inhabit the same world.

  4. Dear Servetus,
    as a matter of fact, it seems like Mother Hearth is putting a big burdon on umany of us, especialy Japan. When so may other areas are still recovering from previous disasters.
    Even if for some of us religious payers are not part of our lifes, if we could just, each and every one of us, think of all the ones in need, hope for them to be secured, whish for a brighter future for their families, if all those thoughts could just make a circle of spirited healing, … To ease their pain and suffering.
    Thinking of them all, especialy youngest and oldest ones, since they are their roots and their future.

    • I absolutely agree. We don’t have to belong to an organized religion to think of our fellow humans and hope and do for them. (My upbringing predisposes me to be positive about organized religion, but I am always hesitant about getting too preachy.)

  5. I just came home and turned on our fav news channel. My mind is literally whirling with the headlines.

    “I had to let go of thinking I could control anything by worrying about it.” It’s hard to let go of that control that we think we have…then turn that control over to G-d. Psalms 139 is one our favorite chapters around our home. Take a look at it tonight.
    Sorry if that sounds preachy, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind!

    Coming to these 15 blogs is akin, to my way of thinking, to going to the movies or turning a favorite tv program on or picking up a good book…except there is actual interaction with some neat people on the blogs/message boards. With some added thoughtfulness spiced with a little entertainment/humor!

    Thanks for your words, Serv!

    • As Jesus says in Matthew 6 (paraphrasing) has any worry ever extended your life by a single day? It’s a hard lesson to grasp, though.

      I do believe that entertainment and relaxation is important. For me personally that was the only way a message could get to my burnt-out brain last year.

  6. Well-said, Servetus. It’s difficult to see so much suffering in the world. We all cope in different ways and we can’t help everyone for every cause and disaster. Wish there was a solution, but I suppose a small gesture is better than none at all.

    • I think this is the key issue. I was talking about it with friends at lunch today — you start off concerned for everyone, and you end up deadened to everyone else’s pain because there is so much suffering in the world. At some point you have to draw a line to preserve your own capacity to keep living. So a gesture can be more than a gesture if that’s how you intend it, if it’s what you can do.

  7. Thank you, Servetus, for this wonderful blog post. It is relieving to find myself in such a thoughtful community.
    I stopped watching TV right now, for one, I do not have a TV set but eventually watch at my parents, and for another, I immediately start crying seeing those pictures. As I cannot help anyone by crying, but only by actively doing something, I try to avoid directly seeing the pictures and just starting to cry all over again.
    My strong believe is, to plant a tree, when the end of the word is announced for tomorrow. I hope my small seeds (as you say, smiles, encouragements, signs of love and help) can contribute to change the outcome.
    I have to stop now, I am crying again.

    • Ach, das Apfelbäumchen. 🙂 I think we have no choice because even if they announce it for tomorrow, there’s always the possibility of reprieve.

      There’s something weird about tv and media like the internet. They bring us together and make us feel other’s suffering (I was actually staying with my German “family” when the Indonesian tsunami hit a few years ago — and thus glued to the tv for two solid days while the country was at a standstill) but they also make us feel more helpless much of the time. It’s hard to know how to react.

  8. Thanks for this post. I’ve been checking CNN all day at work over what now appears an imminent nuclear meltdown on Japan and the tragic revolution in Lybia and other and contemplating the suffering in it all. Like you said, there is nothing we can do but to witness and aid when we can.

    • I don’t know what to think about Japan anymore; the reports are so conflicting. Those Libyans — I hope they hang in there. And witnessing is not nothing.

      Someone told me once that if you see domestic abuse occurring it’s a mistake to insert yourself in the struggle with your body but that you should come up close the abuser and just look at him really penetratingly. It turns out this has actually worked for me once. It’s like insisting to the abuser that you will *not* look away has some effect in terms of getting him to see himself.

  9. Wise words, Servetus. We could all learn from adopting your way of looking at things – or be reminded that we already look at it in similar ways but tend to forget about it.

    “Heal the world, make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race” as the song goes.

    • I need to remind myself of it, too — it’s so easy to switch off when you think you can’t do anything.

  10. Thank you very much for your post today. It is incredible what has been happening in the world recently. I find that I can’t look away from what’s happening, especially in Japan. I feel so sad for all people that are caught in all these events, and it makes me feel very humble that I was born where I was born: in this quiet part of the world.
    We are all in this world together, and all we can hope and pray for is that things quiet down on all fronts.

    • I agree. I ask everytime I see the tv why my life has been so privileged, for such apparently random reasons.

  11. Very beautifully said and thankyou, you made me cry! Amazing how alike our cultures and religious sentiments are. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammed said “smiling is an act of charity” and in science we know the action moving the facial muscles into a smile, release chemicals in the brain that makes one feel better.
    Its been a horrid year for me personally but I hope that you dont mind me saying that I share your sentiments especially for healing and helping. Allah bless you Servetus for your kind heart and may mankind be united in peace justice and compassion for one another. Amen.

    • I hope your year gets better soon, Spooks Addict. And I share your prayer for peace, justice and compassion.

  12. I’ve often thought about this in recent years. If people would only communicate more, talk to each other rather than at each other, discover common ground and the threads that link all humanity, surely it would be a better world? Perhaps it sounds simplistic or naive of me to say this, considering my age and the amount of war and discord and tragedy I have seen in my time. But communication–really listening to one another–is so important in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our places of worship . . . Come, let us reason together.


    I hope your year gets better. And your sentiments are such we should all share in. Peace be with you.

    • I always used to say “come let us reason together” to students, until someone pointed out I was putting myself in the voice of G-d 🙂

      Really listening is *hard*.

  13. The timing of this event feels so tragic and diminutive except that apart from feeling melancholic for so much tragedy I am grateful for what I do have. Like I said to Mes & Frenz the other day this event is not just about Richard Armitage but like the song goes : “All the right moves, in all the right places!” which translates to friendship.

    • This is a really good point. I think a lot of people have been sustained by their friendships in this fandom over the years.

  14. Whether you say prayers, meditate good thoughts, do acts of charity, make a financial donation, or simply make someone else smile you have done something. And that is important.
    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” simple and powerful and universal.

    Servetus, just by this simple act of posting your thoughts has created & inspired prayers and good thoughts to those in need. Thanks for being you.

  15. Your philosophical, heartfelt post lead me to remember John Donne’s inimitable Meditation 17 written in 1614:

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    We are all connected and we hurt when others bleed. It means a lot that we can share our grief at what is happening in our world at present, not only with family, friends and those we work with, but with a community of friends around the world united by an amazing actor!

  16. Amen.
    It is impossible not to think now about the tragedy of all these people. Knowing that somebody thinks of us, pray for us in difficult times is very comforting. And I hope that everyone affected by this tragedy will feel it.
    Oh yes definitely, reading this blog I am sure that no man is an island.

  17. Amen.

    I can’t help but think of Nietzsche in times of suffering, specifically the opportunity it presents for personal and social enhancement.

  18. Prayers are never a waste. I firmly believe that.

    Love also attracts love. Nature can both create and destroy and we can’t control that; but our own actions are our own responsibilty.
    We definitely are not islands. We all affect one another by what we do and our intentions in doing it.

    I ask God and the angels to bless, protect and comfort those caught up in nature’s destructive power; and for all of us to choose to send out the positive force of love.

    • I agree. How do we expect people to love others if we ourselves do not act in ways that are loving?

  19. A mother of a little boy I treat came in today – her family is in Japan and mercifully they are safe. One relative is in Tokyo however and she has no power or food. It is truly a horrific situation for the Japanese people.

    • I just read half a million Japanese in shelters. From the US perspective, makes Hurricane Katrina look like a bagatelle. Japan is probably better equipped to deal with this than New Orleans was, but it’s going to take them years to recover.

  20. Thanks to everyone for all of your positive comments and prayers for the world. We may be a small group, but maybe we can start a revolution 🙂

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