Left Justified: A prayer for the new year

By Stanley Campbell

Let’s start the new year with a prayer. Here’s one I said before the Severson Dells fund-raising breakfast a couple years back. It was for their fund-raising program, which is such a miracle anyway. I love the work of their Education Center, so I was honored to grace the stage and bless the occasion.

Prayer is often a plea. In olden days, we would pray to go before the king and lay our request at his feet. In these modern times, prayers have taken on the mystical aspects of supplicating the spiritual king. And all religious faiths pray, from native to Christian to Muslim and Jew.

Most of the time, prayers are in support of personal healing and overcoming the travails of this world. I enjoyed a cartoon showing the history of prayer, back when Daniel was praying before the lions, to the Christians in the catacombs, and the modern American asking for guidance in finding a parking spot.

This is the prayer I said before my environmental friends:

May we call upon a higher power, the Holy Spirit, and our better natures. This life we possess is precious and yet so fleeting; we give thanks for the good graces and magic mysteries unfolding before us. Let us be more aware, careful and grateful.

Like a cinder we glow and then disappear, may we find enjoyment in this creation, as well as reason and a little hope. We pray for resources to maintain, if not renew, the natural environment surrounding us.

Temper the bulldozer and cement mixer, the greed for quick profits that spoil the lands. With education, we can change our community! With love, we can save our planet.

Bless and multiply our gifts that we share with the staff of Severson Dells: Don, Betsy, Kathy, Richard, the Board of Directors and all the volunteers. They are our gifts.

We give thanks and pray for our local and state politicians, our county board members and the new forest preserve commissioner, who recognize the importance of educating the next wave of children to respect nature and wilderness.

We have the power if we have the will to persevere and preserve this land. Let us never be fearful to speak about love for the environment.

We are thankful for this new year, and will do what we can to bring your love to this community, and the world. Amen.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Jan. 5-11, 2011 issue

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