A Prayer in the Time of Pandemic

8 Apr

A Prayer in the Time of Pandemic


Affirming spirituality as the power over life and death I aspire to achieve

this spirituality that is nothing other than the blending of love and mystery

cherishing wonder at a precarious precipice, respecting knowledge

prayer seemed a weakening of spirit, a reaching out to the void, pretending

that there was someone there ready to respond, a metaphysical crutch in times of need

evading the loneliness of being when that other in our dreams is silent when and if we awake

we need not, must not, give up hope against hope, as nadezdha mandelstam never did

we need not, must not, cling to promises that can’t be kept, pretending as paul did when

praising abraham as he “believed against hope in hope” taking the greatest risk

put more simply, still falsely, in hebrews 11:1-“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things

not seen,” the assurance invented to banish uncertainty burglarizes

truth, demeaning faith as mere submission to authority, as refusal to live life fully, as refusal of the enchantments of

uncertainty, instead of continuing up mountains to heights where justice dwells, climbing as the air thins, sustained by

love by starlight truly certain and real


yet we can lean to see and understand anew, pushed by the crisis of the earth to open eyes more widely, prayer will be

loosened from moorings of church and state, only then becoming truly sacred: so realized, prayer becomes fervent

hope, not needing to be uttered as if a cry of desperation no longer needing assurances or false promises, prayer

becomes love and attentiveness a stone thrown from land far out falling beyond sight in an ocean of uncertainty


yet not lacking courage to stare at bodies piling up in churches, morgues overflowing, funerals on hold, statistics

replacing stories so that suffering stays abstract, leaders standing stiffly almost at a loss for words for the first time

ever, yet uttering prime time moonshine language as addressing sheep, confusing optimism with hope, curbing

science and scientists, treating misinformation, market-driven and gut-generated as knowledge, even wisdom


yet we go on listening restlessly waiting for a few words exhibiting love uncertainty, losing patience with what we hear

nightly we turn inward for knowledge for wisdom for love and outward for love for friendship invisible communities all

over the planet bonded by these fervent hopes are gathering the strength to be ready for whatever comes tomorrow

and stand by this prayer

11 Responses to “A Prayer in the Time of Pandemic”

  1. RBN 4000 April 8, 2020 at 7:15 am #

    Hi Richard, you might want to see if you can do anything about the ads that appear in your post. Like this


    • Richard Falk April 8, 2020 at 7:30 am #

      I couldn’t find any ads, and there was nothing visible after your words ‘Like this’

      • ray032 April 8, 2020 at 8:08 am #

        Richard, I have never seen an ad on your site.
        Wordpress is not Free. There used to be ads that made revenue for WordPress on my site I never saw until I saw them from a friend’s computer, and now I pay extra to be ad free.

    • Rabbi Ira Youdovin April 8, 2020 at 10:19 am #

      The ads are placed in different markets. You may be receiving ads that Richard and Ray aren’t. I have no idea of how they can be stopped.

  2. ray032 April 8, 2020 at 7:25 am #

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

    And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all Knowledge; and though I have all Faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not Love, I am nothing.

    And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Love, it profits me nothing.

    Love suffers long, and is kind; Love is not jealous; Love does not boast, is not puffed up,

    Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;

    Rejoices not in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the Truth;

    Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be Knowledge, it shall vanish away.

    For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
    But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be no more.

    When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    And NOW abides Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.
    1 Corinthians 13

  3. Schlüter April 8, 2020 at 11:29 am #

    Yes, we bitterly need love for mankind and likewise energy to resist the forces driving the world to chaos by their greed!
    Cordial regards

  4. Paul Wapner April 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm #

    I’m a little late to respond but wanted to say that ‘prayer poetry’ is essential now (and always). The collective life we want is often over the justice horizon and yearning, despite Buddhist transcending promises (which I daily practice), seems to be inescapably human.

    I’m unsure what prayer is, who it is directed to, and the dynamics involved. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a sweet book, “The Energy of Prayer.” I’m also attracted to the Native American notion of connecting to the one we talk to when we’re alone. I’m mostly taken by Mary Oliver’s words:

    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?

    Have you read Richard Rorty’s reflections on poetry?: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/articles/68949/the-fire-of-life).

    Thanks for writing and living a poetic life.

    • Richard Falk April 15, 2020 at 11:41 pm #

      Thanks, Paul. Hoping you and Diane, and children, are managing to be
      safe without foregoing the pleasures of life still accessible under
      present stressful circumstances. Of course, you know far better than
      I what prayer (without the metaphysics of organized religion) is truly
      about. My simplistic outlook does not extend beyond permutations of
      ‘fervent hope.’

      Less grandly, I am appalled by Trump’s defending of WHO in the midst
      of the pandemic. I thought that I had built up enough antibodies so
      that nothing he might do would have the power to appal, but then he

      On a still less grand level, our ping-pong has improved 200% because
      of daily playing, and Hilal has revealed quite a previously unsuspected
      gift at my expense, which has not yet sullied my admiration.

      With love from both of us!

    • Richard Falk April 15, 2020 at 11:42 pm #

      P.S. I will find Richard Rorty’s reflections on poetry. We had been friends
      while he was at Princeton, before leaving for Virginia.

  5. Kata Fisher April 15, 2020 at 11:34 pm #


    There comes a point in time for everyone that they are dragged into the position or place of their lives where they hate to be. Understanding that all things work out perfectly for all those who love God. God is love, and all who love God abide in Him.

    Is there noting to hate?

    … in those days “they caught nothing.” Heat and Hail

    It’s a grave offence to misunderstand the Gospel of John chapter 21. Peter is baptized, a surviving witness of resurrection, has received Holy Spirit – he was sent out, and he still remains in his non-agape /philo affections both to Jesus Christ and the Gospel – he believed, and was with Spirit of God – but he was not Apostle Paul with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Church, and if you are not the Church – you shall not try to interpret the Gospel according to the Paul.

    – Peter had difficulty understand it, far away from. Paul was with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and those who did hear it and believe it either had or had no ability to interpret it – by the gift of God.

    Not all Pauline letters were written or signed by Apostle Paul. There were not falsified. The Gospel was not falsified.

    Sacred texts are written and re-written.

    In ancient Rome if someone violated probatum of the writ – the penalty was execution, and that would be a death-penalty, contemporary. Back then – who would take upon themselves to falsify the letters to the Church? If they really wanted to die – they just became gladiators for cheer, fun?
    Not always, they also were prosecuted for the Faith that came from hearing and hearing trough the word of Christ.

    What is the Faith of the Church, and how does it really happen – does it happen and works?

    What’s the Church –

    a separated institution.

    At the end of the days – we are not seeing the end of the times. We did not see Anti-Christ with Solomons Hoardings – but it foreshadowed the full representation of the accursed Antichrist. Why would God allow that trough son of David, Solomon a foreshadowing of Antichrists’.

    All nations are damned as long as they don’t wise up. Its a tragedy to all humanity. But, it is what it is.

    we have seen a tiny little virus prosecuting us all. Some harsh blows.

    Natural revelation is just absolutely incredible. Do we even have to pray to hear from and about Special Revelation.

    We will see Pope Francis repenting of his secular nonsense – and that will be awesome for all and delight that Church is separated institution.

    We all may not be able to avoid mock each other – but should totally avoid mocking God.

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