Friday, December 21, 2012

The Longest Night - a Prayer for Children

On this day and night of the Winter Solstice, we remember those for whom Christmas is a time of pain and not a time of joy; when the holidays bring difficult memories and no visions of sugar plums; when we pause today to mourn the loss of precious children through an act of senseless violence.

The prayer below is one that I used this past Sunday with our congregation after the children led us in their annual Christmas Program. We often talk during this time and in the face of these kinds of events that we should hug our children more tightly. I would agree with that, but I believe that these are the moments when we should also consider how we care for and embrace children who are not our own.
This prayer was written by Ina J. Hughes and adapted by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund.
We pray/accept responsibility for children
            Who sneak popsicles before supper,
            Who erase holes in math workbooks,
            Who can never find their shoes.

And we pray/accept responsibility for those
            who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
            who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
            who were born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,
            who never go to the circus,
            who live in an X-rated world.

We pray/accept responsibility for children
            who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
            who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray/accept responsibility for those
            who never get dessert
            who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
            who watch their parents watch them die,
            who can’t find any bread to steal,
            who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
            whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser
            and whose monsters are real.

We pray/accept responsibility for children
            who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
            who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food.
            who like ghost stories
            who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
            who get visits from the tooth fairy,
            who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
            who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
            whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray/accept responsibility for those
            whose nightmares come in the daytime,
            who will eat anything,
            who have never seen a dentist
            who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
            who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
            who live and move, but have no being.

We pray/accept responsibility for children
            who want to be carried and for those who must,
            for those we never give up on and for those
            who don’t get a second chance,
            for those we smother and for those who will grab the hand of anyone kind enough to offer it.

1 comment:

  1. It was a tragic event and the entire nation was shocked. There are no words for comfort to the grieving families but in prayer we keep them to our thoughts is an act of goodwill.