إن شاء الله InShaAllah

 

God willing, the hungry will be fed.

God willing, the stranger will be welcomed home.

God willing, we will see peace in our lifetime.

God willing, all will be loved.

The thing is, I think God is willing.

I think it is us who aren’t willing.

We are afraid of the world we would create if we stopped waiting for God’s hand to descend and ended wars and fed the hungry with our own hands.

So maybe our prayer should be:

God willing, our fear abates.

God willing, we stop waiting.

God willing, we start acting like God already willed it.

إن شاء الله

إن شاء الله

إن شاء الله

Amen.

 

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A Meditation on Forgiveness

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Today’s post takes wisdom beyond walls from a metaphor to a reality. Antonio Turner is incarcerated within the Pennsylvania prison system. In this post, Antonio shares his ideas on pain, forgiveness and ultimately, redemption. Antonio have his permission to post this via written letter from inside prison. 

By: Antonio Turner

Quietly I calm my breathing. I relax, struggling to delve my mind into the most intrinsic core of my being. On a trek to forgive my mother remains the unconquerable hurdle on this journey. Why is it so difficult?

Although I have forgiven her from a cognitive standpoint, her rejection still lingers forming a cesspool in my mind: inside an already toxic and overflowing subconscious. Trying to contain the unrestrained resentment bubbling to the surface makes it hard to steady my mind on the difficult task ahead. The forgiveness process, for me, has not been a nourishing act from the heart. Yet since this betrayal and abandonment continue to be a taunting fact of my life, groveling about the matter will get me absolutely nothing!

So today as I ponder my life during a spell of meditation, the hold this unconquerable hurtle has on my heart is becoming a cancer. I sit paralyzed with fear – in my late forties – tormented by these feelings which have a direct effect on other women in my life.

As I secretly detest my mother for the immeasurable mental, physical and emotional pain she inflicted, my body tenses. I call God into my meditative space for help – to relax, to comfort and to guide.

I pray the combination of God and opening up my heart to Him will release the hurt carried every day. I so desire the fetters which have kept my mind in chains for the better part of three decades to be loosened – to release their grip on me. Since I was a little boy, I’ve prayed for this. Maybe I’m a dreamer, thinking, hoping this can happen.

            Blue stars, a gleam of hope

            Galaxies of complicated thought.

            Spheres of emotional entanglement

            A calloused heart full of rings and knots.

On bended knees, if I were only able to open my heart wide enough – seeking a depth of understanding more powerful than sight, I pray. I ask God to give me a comforting lens to examine my bitterness.

Maybe through the lens of forgiveness, I could’ve seen how she only acted out of her own pain – being a victim of domestic violence herself. She was an innocent floundering in her own torrent of pain. My meditation moves towards removing my selfishness, yet was it unreasonable for a child to want to be wrapped in the love of his mother? I don’t know. I’m just a dreamer.

 

My imagination has a tendency to run away from me. Through the prism of compassion can my prayers cause me to see my mother trying her very best? How can you shower affection when you are dealing with your own deep wounds, ones skewered and damaged by love itself?

By the grace of God, I’m now able to recognize her rejection actually had nothing to do with me. Her own woundedness prevented her from being able to love herself. With that emptiness piercing her soul, how could she truly love her own child?

Within my prayers, I ask, “How can I detest someone with so much visceral pain? With no self-love, wasn’t it impossible for her to love me?” I craved that love so much, which is why I pray for forgiveness now.

Guided by a beacon of light from my heavenly Father, I sit creating a sculpture with my words. I’m the one who needs to beg for forgiveness. As I fix my gaze on a starless sky – witnessing the clouds finally freeing the moon – suddenly the gates of my heart spring open. Could this be the first step to free my own hurt permanently?

As I end my prayer, I realize every present moment is an opportunity for a new beginning. And through the trials of suffering, the soul learns wisdom and compassion. My time in meditation has taught me it is possible to attain a newfound freedom from the realm of resentment. I don’t want to end this prayer, but know only through God can I release my mother from what she did to me. God provides a new forgiveness process much greater than my pain.

 

A Season of Spiritual Resistance

 Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.–Pope Francis

Coinciding with the Christian season of Lent, a season of global resistance, and a heightened need for interfaith/multifaith/spiritual/atheist collaborations and wisdom, we here at Sophia’s Pockets have begun a new season as well.

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We have refined our vision, with renewed focus on justice and compassion. We have dropped the word “searching” from our title as an acknowledgement that we all posses divine wisdom and are always worthy of love.  In these times when many of the world’s religions are being used to foster hatred and sow distrust we seek to share global spiritual journeys that resist boxes and boundaries, that tear down fences, that are, in short stories of wisdom beyond walls. We yearn to hear wisdom that indeed troubles our conscience, that helps us fast from feelings of indifference, and feast on love instead. To that end we are excited to announce our new yearly theme: Radical Wisdom.

So consider this your radical, unconditional welcome to join us as we leave our searching behind and step boldly into a season of spiritual resistance.

A Prayer for MLK Day

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For me, as a US American citizen, this Martin Luther King Jr. Day feels especially intense, because this same week this country will inaugurate someone who has denigrated those who struggled along side Dr. King, someone who has amplified voices of hate, and incited increased violence against the oppressed. 

Dear God, 

I pray today for those who make shit happen.

For those who do good, even when it goes unnoticed.

For those who seek justice, even when it is hard.

For those who show up, even when it is dangerous.

I pray today for those who are radicalized by love and who will not stop loving even in the face of hate.

I pray today for those who don’t just speak and share words of peace, but who act with a fierceness of love that bring justice to all.

I pray today for all of us, that we hold ourselves accountable to peace and love and justice, and that we be those people whose work and words bend the moral arc of the whole universe towards justice.

Amen.

 

A Prayer for Overwhelming Times

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

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You may have noticed we haven’t written much as of late. The recent results of the US American election have produced increased violence, hatred, and fear in US America and around the world. Many of us have been at a loss for words, and I personally, have been at a loss for prayers in this difficult time. I have felt obligated to pray for justice, for hope, for revolution, for strength, for the oppressed, but these prayers wouldn’t come, at least not yet. So here is the prayer that feels most true for me right now–a prayer that honors the overwhelming weight of the struggles that lie ahead. 

Dear God,

I have searched high and low,
for a prayer to help me
during these overwhelming times.

I have looked to holy words and blessed scripture,
I have searched the prayers of the saints and sages,
I have read the divine words of kings and crones.

I have failed to find the strength I seek;
failed to find words that will help me overcome my shock and fear.

Instead, I have found a wishful prayer.
A prayer that speaks to the overwhelmed voice inside me,
that needs a moment to be honored before being overcome.
So I will take a moment to pray this wishful, and perhaps cowardly prayer,
and I will take comfort in knowing even Jesus,
in all his revolutionary glory, needed this prayer too.

Dear God, oh dear, dear, God,

Let this cup pass from me.
Let this cup pass from me.
Let this cup pass from me.

Amen.

A Prayer for Rock ‘n’ Roll

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So here’s to your survival and swimming up the stream, crossing over one dam after another, until we get to Rock and Roll Heaven’s gate.– Indigo Girls

I went to my first rock concert when I was 16. I spent a lot of my late teens and early 20’s in rock venues, practice spaces, and recording studios. Sometimes the music was good, sometimes the music was bad, but it was always freeing, and often holy. I know there are people out there who disagree with me, but when I hear that perfect guitar rift, I’m pretty sure I’m hearing the voice of God just as clearly as when I hear a perfect rendition of Ave Maria. So here’s a prayer for rock ‘n’ roll, for those who make it happen, regardless of their beliefs, and for the ways it brings people together, makes people free, and gives us all something to sing about.

To the Universe that gave us Jimi Hendrix, Neil Peart, and Debbie Harry,

Forgive us for those who railed against music in God’s name.
Hatred has never been holy, and creation almost always is.

I pray today, for a world with louder music and quieter bigots;
a world with more guitars and fewer guns;
with more cowbell and less hate.

Did you hear that world? I’ll say it again,
more cowbell, less hate.

Dear God let that be our refrain.

Because lyrics never murdered,
cymbals never orphaned,
and bass drums have never lynched anyone.

God, give us a world with more songs that let us glimpse heaven even while they scream about highways to hell.

Because “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” better represents my faith than “I will build a great, great wall”.

Because there is justice in a drum fill,
and hope in a guitar wail.

So, God bless the punks, the grunge rockers, the metal-heads, and the classic rock junkies.
Bless the musicians who play too loud and the fans who dance too hard.
Which is to say,
God bless rock ‘n’ roll and God bless me.

Amen.

A Prayer for Spacious Places

When hard pressed, I cried to God;  they brought me into a spacious place.–Psalm 118:5

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This is a prayer for those spacious places where we find peace, love, and freedom. These places are both physical and metaphysical. They are urban, suburbia, rural; they are the homes of our friends, the tents of our lovers, the blankets of stars.

Oh universe of all things great and small,

I have seen the wonders of this world, and my heart.

I have been split open by the view from the tallest mountain, by the stars shining from the tallest building, by climbing the tallest tree.

These places have broken the broken parts of me,
where grief and pain have made me small and petty.

I have seen so many places where anger has made everything small,
where tiny pebbles of hate burn without fire.

I wish to live only in places where I can be my biggest self.

Places of risk, possibility, enormity, and freedom.
Places that are so immense they terrify and inspire me.

Yet, out of all the spacious and immense places I have been,
from the tallest tree that I have ever climbed
to the view from a building trying to reach the heights of Babel,
the most spacious place I have ever known is love.

Let me live there always.

Amen.

A Prayer of Remeberance

By: Nermine Mohamed, Writing Intern 2015

We are honored to share a post from our former intern, Nermine, whose prayer about remembering her mother offers grace and wisdom. Her prayer seeks blessings for those living with loss, just as our prayer for the dead sought blessings for those who have died. 

It’s hard to put in words what we feel about a person who is long gone; a person who is no longer a part of our life and who never got to know what we’ve become, who we are now…They say time heals and that’s true. Our own frail human memory makes loss bearable. But do we really want to forget or is it simply inevitable?

From all that I’ve lost, all the memories I can no longer recall, all the photographs that captured a moment I don’t remember living or even how it felt being there, I know that what hurts even more than the loss is the inability to remember what we once had.

Today my mother would have been 54 years old. I sometimes think what my life would
have been like if she was still alive. I get angry sometimes that I can’t remember much.There’s nothing but emptiness; a void of something that has left without leaving me any traces to hold on to. So, I pray for me and everyone who suffered loss that we can be healed by remembrance.

Dear God,

Today I pray for remembrance of the mother.
I wish I had a little bit more time to know her better.

Help me remember her by being even just a tiny bit like her,
for everyone speaks of her strength, her honesty, her generous and loving heart.

Help me remember her by living up to her memory
and being be the best person I can be.

Help me remember her every time I feel lost or alone
and help me remember that I never really was lost or alone,
for I’ve always had support and found people who love me
even when I thought there’s nothing to love in myself.

Help me remember her by cherishing every living moment,
by keeping every memory solid,
by not taking life for granted, by loving,
by staying true to who I am and what I believe in.

Help me and all those who have lost a loved one.

Help us remember those who are gone,
even when our memories fade and there’s nothing to recall.

Help us remember them in little acts of kindness,
and by showing those who are grieving
that pain can be healed and that nothing is ever lost forever.

Help us remember them in You,
in Your boundless generosity and Your mercy
and how You always give way more than you take.

Help us remember them in Your kindness,
for despite our loss and the pain that seemed at the time intolerable,
You helped us heal.

Love and peace made their way into our hearts again
and now we know that You don’t really put us through what we can’t endure.

Help us remember with patience, with gratitude, and with faith that there’ll be another chance to see those we’ve lost, where we’ll hold on to them for all the time we couldn’t have and all the memories we wished they were a part of, and finally there will be no letting go.

Amen.

A Prayer for the Dead

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Dear God,

They say that dead men tell no tales,
but I am not so sure.

I think, perhaps, it is only the dead that can tell us anything at all.

Through their death they show us the mirror of mortality.

They show us the flaws in our own lives.

The deaths of those we cherish tell us each the stories of our own ends,
and give us the power to rewrite them.

I believe it is every person’s last gift, to shed light on living through their dying.

Those who I morn have taught me lessons, have told me their stories, and have given me strength to change my own.

So I ask that the dead be blessed, as they have blessed me by living and dying.

Amen.