I composed and shared this prayer before a screening of the documentary Soldiers of Conscience here at Duke Divinity School, which doubled as the initial planning meeting for students and faculty working to host an event next Veterans Day (11/11/2011) to honor the consciences of and heal moral injury amongst our nation’s service men and women. It is a prayer for the rest of us.
We suck. Like stubborn children, we want what we don’t possess, we covet and do not have, so we kill for what we desire.* Or worse, we send others into harms way to get what it is we’ve said we need. Those who don’t die trying to get what we have sent them to retrieve come back with invisible injuries. They are forced to sacrifice more than they bargained for.
Please forgive us. Please help to see that we need forgiveness in the first place! Be brutally honest with us; lead us away from covetousness and deliver us from evil!** In the process of making mistakes, however, we hope to accomplish some success. Let this event that we’re planning be one of those successes, one that helps build up, and not divide, your Church and your world. Give us the audacity to bear witness to the ‘not yet’ that is right here. May we be agents of your presence for the least of those among us, who daily face the dark abyss of moral ambiguity and succumb to the wretched self-sacrifice of suicide.
These soldiers have fought the good fight long enough. Their burden is heavy, their journey long and lonely. As our nation has had need of their services, they do not avoid the toil, never begging to be excused from failing strength. May their sacrifice be acceptable to you, oh Lord. We ourselves pray for that same courageous strength, in order to share this great burden.
*adapted from James 4
**adapted from the Lord’s Prayer