A prayer of shelter and shadow – A #CandleOfHope on #NationalDayOfPrayer for #CoronaVirus crisis

Tens of thousands of Christians lit candles in their homes and prayed on Sunday 22nd March in response to a call to prayer initiated by the Presidents of Churches Together in England (CTE).

A Palestinian oil lamp marked with ‘Peace’ in many languages alight in my window

So many participants shared photos of their candles on social media that CTE reports the hashtag #candleofhope became Twitter’s second most trending hashtag in the UK during Sunday evening.

Often on a Sunday evening I am out visiting a church community in the Open Table Network, which I coordinate. It felt strange to be at home knowing we could not meet and didn’t know when we would meet again.

It reminded me of a saying I find particularly inspiring, especially in dark times:

Yet it is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.

William L. Watkinson

As places of worship close across the world, it felt even more important for us to witness to our faith, hope and love in this extraordinarily testing time.

As part of evening prayer while the candle burned in the window, I shared a prayer written by Pádraig Ó Tuama, inspired by two different translations of an Irish saying, in which the same word can mean both shelter and shadow. It felt fitting at this time when many of us feel the shadow of fear and need to shelter to keep ourselves and each other safe.

A bridge of candles in rainbow coloured glass holders

A prayer of shelter and shadow

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.

– It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.

– It is in the shadow of each other that the people live.

We know that sometimes we are alone,
and sometimes we are in community.

Sometimes we are in shadow,
and sometimes we are surrounded by shelter.

Sometimes we feel like exiles –
in our land, in our languages and in our bodies.
And sometimes we feel surrounded by welcome.

As we seek to be human together,
may we share the things that do not fade:
generosity, truth-telling, silence, respect and love.

And may the power we share
be for the good of all.

We honour God, the source of this rich life.
And we honour each other, story-full and lovely.

Whether in our shadow or in our shelter,
may we live well
and fully
with each other.
Amen.

– Pádraig Ó Tuama, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community

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