Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bless Us with Dirty Hands - A Prayer before Serving Others


This prayer was delivered at the Faith and Service Unite Summit luncheon, sponsored by Repair the World, at the ServiceUnites Conference on Volunteering and Service.

Ribbono Shel Olam, Master of the World:

Bless us with dirty hands.
       Bless us with hands that are crusted with food hastily served, and copy ink from handouts and pamphlets and protest signs. Bless us with calluses from fruit gleaned and crops picked, trash collected, cartons carried, and clothes sorted. Bless us with the grime of the earth, and the sweat of a hand grasped in fellowship and in common cause. Master of the World, bless us with dirty hands.

Bless us with a weathered heart.
       Bless us with hearts that have not hid from the pain of others, nor merely guessed at their welfare, nor that make the stories of the suffering into castles of theory in the air. Bless us with hearts rough with knowing the lives of those around us: the pain of the addict and the homeless, the struggle of the abused and the hungry. Bless us with hearts that show, in faded patches, the signs of use: that they do not beat with naivete, but rather knowingly, and all the stronger for it. Source of Compassion, bless us with a weathered heart.

Bless us with sharp eyes.
       Bless us with the eyes that see, more than a problem, a person, and more than a person, a human being imbued with Your image. Correct our vision so that the rationalizations, the reasons we tell ourselves we cannot help, stand out in sharp contrast. Bless us to see life both as it is now, and as it could be. Bless us to see, in humility and in greatness, the effect of each individual and of each community. Yotzer haAdam, Creator of Us All, bless us with sharp eyes.

Forgive the brashness of our prayer God, asking for so much at once.

But Your Rabbis taught us that there is no better sacrifice than justice. Your Prophets said that there is no more holy fast than to share our bread with the hungry, to take the homeless into our homes, to clothe the naked, and to unlock the chains of wickedness.

So we hope You will forgive a little chutzpah as we struggle to find the path to righteousness.

Give us more chances than we deserve to turn away from evil and do good.
Give us more courage than we possess, so that no chance is wasted.

Bless our hand, our hearts, and our eyes.

In Your name we call. Answer us with compassion.

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