How was your 4th of July? Did you spend some time in prayer?
Fourth of July at our house was fine, until the sun went down. We live in a large neighborhood of cul de sacs around a park, and several neighbors on nearby streets set off fireworks. This year, it seems, the fireworks vendors had upped their game. The M80s sounded like cannon fire. They were really loud — right in your chest loud, and a little scary. It was like being under attack.
In some sense, those fireworks were like the national news is to me these days. Moments of quiet, but the noise — it seems like it will never end, and oh, so unpleasant.
Dear Lord, have mercy upon us.
Now, in our house, we have two cats, a grey and a tabby. The grey was unphased. I know she’s not deaf — she pricks up her ears when the neighbor’s dog barks, and the fireworks were much louder than that. She just didn’t care about the fireworks. She went about her business.
I do the same, I admit, when the news is turned off. When I’m hard at work at the computer, or enjoying television with my family, or out in the kayak. Life goes on, oblivious to what’s happening in Washington.
Thanks be to God.
The second cat in our house, the tabby, had a different view of the July 4th festivities. For her, the fireworks were scary. She went into hiding. We searched all over, every room, under the beds, even in the garage, to no avail. Finally my husband got out the flashlight and found her, hiding in the bottom of our bedroom closet. Not having the heart to eject her, we let her stay put, even when we went to bed.
The tabby’s like me, too. When I hear the national news, I want to go into hiding, and stay there for a very long time.
Good Lord, deliver us.
Now the twist in my story was around 2 in the morning. The grey cat, the strong one, began to howl, calling for her scared buddy. Where are you? I can’t find you. I miss you. And isn’t that the case for us? We can’t hide for long. Our friends and family need us to be present, to be with them. The grey cat can deal with the fireworks, but not with being alone. So we must take our place in the world.
Lord, give me strength.
As I said last week, when I sit down to meditate, it can help to say a prayer first, to bring my hopes and fears to God , to clear my mind to listen. Sometimes just a heartfelt one-liner, like the ones in my story. But for the Fourth of July, or when the national news is pressing down hard, I can recommend this prayer for our country, from the Book of Common Prayer [prayer #18, page 820].
Let us pray:
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage:
We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.
Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on July 7, 2018.