Radical Prayers: On Peace, Love, and Nonviolence is a guide to daily connection to God through prayers that meditate on the challenges facing us today. With reflections on each continent, wildlife, and homelessness among many more topics, John Dear guides us through a holistic view of our world and the steps we can take to find nonviolence in every aspect of our lives. Read on below for an excerpt from the book, available here.
I beg you to help the over 60 million refugees
and displaced peoples around the world,
the highest number since World War II.
They do not want to leave their homes, their livelihoods,
their relatives, or their nations,
but they are forced to, against their will,
because of violence, terror, and war.
In fleeing the violence,
they choose not to join the violence,
but their lives are uprooted and traumatized.
I beg you to inspire the world
to reach out and help refugees,
and to end the violence from which they flee.
Over 22 million people have been displaced
or killed in Syria in recent years.
It’s hard to take in such numbers,
so I pray for sisters and brothers such as Dora,
a young Syrian woman, who along with her fiancé,
recently fled the horrific killings and war
in her hometown in Syria.
They joined six million others
making the journey to Cairo, Egypt,
where they struggled for a year in despair and poverty.
One day, Dora’s fiancé said they had to take the chance
and get to Europe if they were going to survive.
So they used their life savings to buy tickets on a ship
to smuggle them across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
Hundreds of people—
women, children, older people,
all in the same dire predicament—
were crowded onto the boat.
For four terrible days, they suffered in the rough seas
with no food and little water. Then suddenly,
armed men approached in a small boat, threatened them,
and attacked their ship, which capsized.
Hundreds drowned. Others floated in the sea for days.
One by one, many died.
Dora’s fiancé said to her in tears,
“I love you so much, you are the love of my life,
but I don’t have any more strength,”
and he slipped into the water
and drowned in front of her.
Another woman holding up a tiny baby
thrust the baby into Dora’s hands and said,
“I can’t swim any more. Take my baby
and get her to safety.”
Then she too slipped into the water and died.
After 48 hours, Dora and a few others were rescued.
Eventually she and the baby were brought to a place
in northern Europe where they are being cared for.
Every refugee needs our loving hospitality, our loving care,
and our healing help so they can start their lives over.
This hospitality and care is supposed to be
the hallmark of the peacemaking Church,
of the Christian life.
Dear God, inspire and mobilize Christians
and people of good will everywhere, including me,
to do what we can to reach out with loving hospitality
and care to our sisters and brothers in need,
to work to end this global crisis of refugees,
and to stop the causes of this catastrophe
by working for an end to war, violence,
poverty, systemic injustice, and environmental destruction.
Thank you, on behalf of Dora and all refugees,
for hearing this prayer.