Magazine article Tikkun

Praying for Time

Magazine article Tikkun

Praying for Time

Article excerpt

* Prayers for a Thousand Years, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon. Harper San Francisco, 1999.

I never managed to get very much out of New Year's resolutions, at least not the ones that were made on December 31. Personal pledges to eat less, stop smoking, and be less argumentative seemed great just before the New Year, but a few days later the fact that the calendar had gone up by one digit just didn't seem reason enough not to reach for another brownie or Lucky Strike-or to make one more devastatingly effective comment.

As we enter a new millennium I wonder if, despite all the hype, the world will use this change of (by gosh) all four digits to show more will power than I ever did. Sadly, I don't see much sign of that effort-at least on a global scale. On January 1, 2000, there will still be around 50,000 children dying of hunger each day; the chemicals from the toxic dumps will still be leaching into the water supply; and expenditures for weapons will not suddenly drop to a rational figure. The Madness, in all its depressing forms, will continue.

Just how are we to make the changes called for by the new millennium when global teshuvah is so clearly lacking? Prayers for a Thousand Years, a lovely new collection from the editors of the marvelously effective Earth Prayers, reflects as well as any book I've seen the difficult and fruitful tensions between personal and planetary spiritual development. Over 200 authors provide prayers, poems, short sermons, or brief statements in answer to the question: what do we need to pray for in order to help create a world of "beauty and kindness"? The contributors are a magnificent group of all ages, genders, and religious temperaments from thirty-one countries. Yet the spiritual messages of these "prayers" are remarkably consistent: honor the earth as well as people; remember the suffering that afflicts so many beings; don't lose heart or hope even in this dark time; try to find some joy along the way

Is there anything new here? Why not just use the old prayers-many of them, frankly, much better written than most of what is in this book?

Because some things have changed. Without doing a formal head count, it's obvious that in Prayers for a Thousand Years the voices of women are fully present. …

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