December's issue was left undone due to an act of God, or rather an act that God allowed to happen, a catastrophe. Unlike the public horror that was the catastrophe in Haiti, this catastrophe was personal, the sudden and unexpected loss of my sister's sister-in-law from a massive stroke that no one could have predicted. A “real” publication wouldn't have stopped, but it happened here. The world stopped for some of us due to the death of a very dear person, one woman, Tina Lillig, a person many looked to as a spirit guide. Tina brought such love and joy into our lives. She was holy but not in a self-righteousness or excessively pious or showy dogmatic kind of a way. She was holy in her charity, patience and tolerance. She was wise and brilliant. Tina was a rare person and there are hundreds of us here in the Midwest and, in fact around the world, who would attest to this. The Church was filled to overflowing for her funeral. People were standing in the back. Tina was a faith figure. It is not that common for there to be so many people in attendance at the service of a person who was not a celebrity, nor an elected official, or a person who is not from a large family, but Tina was beloved by many people. Word gets around when there is a person of genuine charity to be had for a friend simply for the interacting.
There is a brief description of Tina's life and work at www.tinalillig.com. It is a website that will be developed over time with her writings and to continue her work. The family's loss is too fresh to expect that they will work on the website now, but in time, it will be worth checking. The homily from Tina's funeral will be posted on the site and that in and of itself is worth reading. Presently, in light of the loss of more than 150,000 people in Haiti, our grief for one person seems almost selfish, but it is confirmation just how enormous each single loss is and can be and a reminder of the enormity of each personal loss. We know that, collectively, when it comes to Haiti, we have not even begun, we cannot even begin, to comprehend the enormity and impact of it all. Like many people, we have followed the developments in Haiti on a daily basis since the 7.0 earthquake occurred on January 12th, 2010.
December 13th and in the days following Tina Lillig's death, despite my deep faith, I felt desolate, confused and lost. Tina was both a comfort and an inspiration to me. She was someone I depended on and consulted when it came to the important things in life. I am grateful that my sister brought her into our lives when she married into the Varias family many years ago. The shock of this loss made it necessary for me to withdraw into solitude and reflection. The grief impacted my health. The news of the Haitian disaster only served to increase my perplexity about what is going on in the world and life. For days I kept my own company and then one day I came across this website (link below) with Prayers for World Peace. It washed over me like a tonic.
The good news is that the Haitian people are described as some of the most resilient people on Earth. They endured four hurricanes in 2008. The good news continued while the world watched people from all over the globe, from countless countries, converge in the tiny country of Haiti to do unselfish rescue at some danger and cost to themselves. Habitat for Humanity estimated that there were 1.2 million people homeless. Estimates are that 150,000 have died so far. Still, the nation of Haiti became the site of some of the most resilient people on Earth meeting some of the most compassionate and unselfish people on Earth. Who isn't inspired by that occurrence? I had the good fortune to meet two doctors, David Ubogy, M.D. and Beth Dowell, M.D., partners in life and in their mission to help the survivors of the Haitian earthquake, who were bound for Haiti on Tuesday, January 20th. A brief glimpse into the lives and work of these two amazing people is written up here. Again, it brings with it inspiration into the kindness and generosity of two of the good people who showed up to lend a hand to those in need.
Link to Prayers for Peace & Healing
In the Book of Proverbs in The Old Testament (a book common to Christianity, Islam and Judaism) it says “Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares”. These prayers call to us from the depth of the human heart and they articulate as well as any humans are able what it is we hope for and want from God. That is what these prayers do, on the internet, the current “street” of our time. These prayers calm the human heart and soul. I hope in the new year that they give you a renewed sense of peace as they did for me.
It seemed fitting that in January when we are celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King that one of the prayers that comforted me most was this one written from the depths of his soul when little children were senselessly slaughtered in the South:
Sunlit paths of Inner Peace by Martin Luther King
Now I say to you in conclusion,
life is hard,
at times as hard as crucible steel. (Mmm)
It has its bleak and difficult moments.
Like the ever-flowing waters of the river,
life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. (Yeah)
Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons,
life has the soothing warmth of its summers
and the piercing chill of its winters. (Yeah)
But if one will hold on,
he will discover that God walks with him, (Yeah. Well)
and that God is able (Yeah) to lift you from the fatigue of despair
to the buoyancy of hope
and transform dark and desolate valleys
into sunlit paths of inner peace. (Mmm)
eulogy for the martyred children - martin luther king jr. - 1963
Voraciously, in need of comfort and understanding, I read prayer after prayer on the website, including
Prayer for World Peace by Sister Joan Chittister; OSB, Pray by Maya Angelou; Wage Peace by Judyth Hill; If There is to Be Peace in the World by Lao-tse; Fr. Mychale Judge's Prayer, FDNY; Peace Day Prayer by Sister Rosemarie; Prayer for World Peace by Dr. Jane Goodall; Oh Allah, I Consult You by the Prophet Muhammad; Creator, Open Our Hearts by Alycia Longriver; Send Thy Peace Oh Lord by Pir-o-murshid Inayat Khan; Insight Meditation by Achaan Chah. All of these prayers are written from the depths of the authors' souls and they address all the concerns and hopes of people everywhere.
This prayer by Mahatma Gandhi is one of my favorites
When I Despair
When I despair
I remember that all through history
the ways of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants, and murderers
and for a time they can seem invincible
but in the end they always fall.
Think of it - always.
And this prayer by Rabbi Kushner well-known for writing “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, this prayer speaks of hope and blessings and peace.
A PRAYER FOR THE WORLD
by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner
Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the Sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin colour.
Let the warmth and the brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness
so that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbours.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbours.
Let the earth, nourished by the rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Peace and healing to you all in this new year.