How to Pray for Paris

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Saw it coming. Both the carnage and the backlash that followed.

Couldn't be avoided. Newton knew it. Wrote a law that explains it very simply:

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

He wasn't talking about times like these, of course. But the law is apropos, even so. Watch CNN. Read Twitter, Facebook, any social media outlet. Knees are jerking all over creation right now. In predictable patterns.

I quit watching CNN and soon gave up on other media sources as well because I knew what I was going to hear as soon as I saw the names of the pundits being consulted. And I also realized, more this time than ever before, that there's not a soul on TV, radio or in print who has a clue what we should do--or not do--now.

But the saddest thing of all is that we may never get past what happened to a serious examination of the history that led to what happened. This searing, maniacal hatred didn't come "out of the blue." Or out of a holy book. It came out of decades of desperation that most of us know nothing about.

So our bewilderment is, likewise, understandable. The things they hate us for were done in our names mostly without our knowing. If we'd known, if we'd truly understood, we might have protested. I like to think so, anyway. Americans are good people. Caring people, genuinely stunned by the hatred heaped upon us.

That's why we're praying for Paris with all our hearts right now. It's all we can do, truth be told. So I'd like to offer the prayer I turned to almost immediately as the horror unfolded before me on TV that night.

Written by St. Francis of Assisi, it hints at a possible answer--or a solid first step toward one, at least, asking:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Tall order, I know. But words have power. Countless cultures insist they do. The Word is the beginning of everything, in one holy book.

These words calmed and consoled me. And then became a call to action of a different kind than most of the talking heads were bellowing back and forth at each other on TV.

Say them aloud, if you've a mind to. Religious or not, try it. Meditate on them, if that's your thing. Let 'em soak into your soul.

And then open your eyes, get up and take them out into the world with you. And become the solution we've been seeking.

In the flesh.

Photo credit: C Jill Reed, Flickr, CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0