Daffodil Prayers

What do we do when chaos and crisis disrupt some of our most familiar and stress-settling life rituals?

Everyday rituals and rhythms anchor our lives.

So what do we do when chaos and crisis disrupt some of our most familiar and stress-settling life rituals?

Many of my colleagues–liturgical theologians and practitioners and religious leaders–are asking this question as COVID-19 ravages our communities. Is it possible that in my Christian community, we may find ourselves planning virtual Palm Sunday and Easter services? Other religious communities are facing their own versions liturgical and ritual disruption. How can we stay connected–in the marrow of our bones, if you will–while keeping the recommended social distance to protect the health of all of us?

I am impressed and intrigued by the creative and courageous efforts leaders are making to livestream worship and prayer services. I am also struck by how quickly schools, families, businesses, and others have begun to fashion new rituals of connecting, learning, working, and even playing that can serve as anchors–even if they are temporary–for people tossed about in the stormy waters of this historic moment.

We humans are a resilient bunch and can and do find ways to care for one another even from a physical distance. And I have a feeling that when we look back on these strange days, we will experience a deep satisfaction in our determination to be community to and with one another. (And those of us who are live streaming novices may experience more than a few chuckles as we remember our awkward Facebook fits and starts!)

For now, I continue to seek moments of everyday sacramentality in my own backyard–those moments when I become aware of God’s presence in daily patterns of work and rest and even in painful rituals of waiting and wondering.

I am also keeping in prayer and in mind those who are made even more vulnerable by this crisis than they already were to hunger, isolation, and violence.

I first drafted the following poem awhile ago and felt a prompting to revise it this week. This spring’s daffodils have reminded me anew of the promises and presence of God we encounter in creation’s rhythms. Perhaps as we journey through this present wilderness, we can offer up our prayers as the daffodils do, seeking each day to renew our faith in God’s grace and peace.

daffodil prayers

“Dip your aching toes
in cool waters,”
said Summer to the
wilderness
wandering
woman.

“Tease your tastebuds
with blackberries. Lay
your weary body down
on gentle meadow
grass. Breathe in the
soft sweetness of coral
honeysuckle where
hummingbirds drink
and dance.”

“Blush with pride,”
said Autumn
to the old maple tree.

“You earned it. You
shaded the little girl who
held summer stars
in her eyes
while she
sat beneath your branches
and read
and read
and read
once upon a times into
dreams into
fierce hopes for the future.”

“Bend toward hope
when icy winds blow,”
said Winter
to the fragile-seeming ones.

“Bend, but don’t break.
You are stronger than you know.
You are resilient.
You are enough.”

“To push your shoulders
up, up, up,”
said Spring.

“Up through still-cold
greening sod to
fragrance the dawn
with daffodil prayers.

Author: Jill Crainshaw

I am a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and an ordained PCUSA minister.

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