CH-47 Chinook (Wikimedia Commons)
One of those odd “prayer requests” popped into the e-mail box Saturday afternoon as I fussed about the news that 30 U.S. troops as well as seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter had been killed early in the day (U.S. time) when a CH-47 Chinook was shot down by Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Twenty-two of the dead were U.S. Navy SEALS, including Jon Tumilson, 35, a native of Rockford in north central Iowa.
Although these deaths were not mentioned specifically, I’m figuring that was the motivation behind the request, part of a “chain” (recipients were instructed to forward the message to everyone in their e-mail address books and I’m sure some did).
The message began, “ACLU has filed a suit to end prayer from the military completely. They're making great progress. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and others.”
None of that is true --- just an extreme stretch of paranoid imagining --- but it is interesting, the politicizing of a great tragedy resonating among folks who should know better but can’t be bothered to think for themselves.
But I’m sure that those of us who do pray, have and will continue to do so for the dead --- U.S. troops, Afghan troops, civilians who got in the way, Afghan insurgents who did the killing (some of whom died as well), all God’s children --- but also for the living, I hope, families and friends; for ourselves as well.
Public figures who commented specifically on the SEALS yesterday characterized them among other things as “national treasures,” “the best of the best,” and I’m sure they were, and are. Beyond lives lost is the greater loss, however; the potential had they lived.
I wondered, too, why exhaustive training and extreme commitment are not channeled, too, into developing an elite corps of peacemakers.
Oh wait --- that’s supposed to be us.
Here’s the “prayer for enemies” from the Book of Common Prayer. Maybe we could begin there: “O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The lights were out here for a couple of hours overnight, the result apparently of a passing storm.
I’m not sure what woke me just before midnight --- the sound of the dissipating storm, or the silence in the house: No central air, no fan (I run one in the bedroom at night to give my ears something to focus on), no other noises of a fully-powered house. No street lights, no illuminated numbers on the bedside clock.
It all seemed oppressive, including the air --- not moving in a sealed-up building --- so I got up and went outside, stood under the eaves (it still was raining) and looked and listened for a while. Then went back inside and went to sleep.
The thought that dominated all others --- if the lights don’t come back on, I won’t be able to make coffee in the morning.
But they did, I did, two cups down by now --- and another day is safely launched.
O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from the night and turnest the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep thy law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.