The posture of prayer in light of Ukraine’s misery

Responding to a friend’s report on the harrowing violence in Ukraine

by Ken Sehested

After fumbling for worthy words, over several hours and much soul-shaking—and listening to “When You’re Broken Open” (from Dance:1, Anna Clyne, cello soloist, with Inbal Segev & London Philharmonic Orchestra & Marin Alsop—here is what emerged.

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We, from this distance and in our negligent comfort and

delinquent affluence, lack the ability to stretch our hands to

yours to feel your shivers; to enlarge our hearts so that they

beat in rhythm with your sobs; to train our eyes so that they

rise above the frivolous, paltry distractions, immune to grief,

comforted in our colonized minds, asking only

      what more is there to drink?

      what more, to eat?

      what more, to abduct our attention from the brutal fate

            of distant, disposable victims of imperial lust and

bloated arrogance?


Kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy.


Who indeed—as the Apostle beseeched—can save from this

body of death? In our weakness we pray, all the while

recognizing that our own spiritual pittance, rooted in our

insulating wealth, renders us complicit in a world governed by

bloated avarice, administered by relentless corruption,

subjugated by callous threat.


We, too, have received our 30 pieces of silver to turn a blind

eye to a rapacious economy, propped up by legislative infamy,

and enforced by judicial villainy.


Kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy.


May our prayers for mercy embolden our hearts and hands,

put us on alert, to the moments and whereabouts of the Spirit’s



Blessed One, tutor us in the practice of praise that provokes

treason against every hard-hearted arrangement.


Only embodied reverence can tame leviathan’s violence. Only

disarmed hearts can contend with the beast without making us

beastly. Only such praise can leverage the earth’s maddening

orbit back to its Rightful Tender.


Then, no longer shall the beggarly be auctioned to satisfy

ravenous demand. They shall find refuge, deliverance, in

secured, Promised Land—all under their own vine and fig tree

where none shall be afraid. For the Beloved has vowed a

ransomed release from misery’s increase: healing the lamed,

gathering the shamed, transforming their weeping to a torrent

of praise.


Kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy.


So, dear sister, be assured that intercessions are being

launched on behalf of all under assault in your region,

accompanied by our material support. Human words are too

frail to express what is needed; but we trust the Spirit to fortify

our meager supplications.


And we ask to receive yours, for us, in return.


Eleison, eleison, Kyrie eleison. Let this be our benediction, and this our recessional: “Benedictus,” by Karl Jenkins from “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,” featuring Croatian cellist Hauser with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Zvjezdice, Zagreb, Croatia

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