What We Long For: A Prayer on January 6, 2022

These words were written by Rev. Lucy Waechter-Webb, PPF Manager of Communications and Digital Organizing, as an invocation for a Vigil for Democracy on January 6, 2022, the one year anniversary of the attack on the capital.

It has been fascinating and troubling for me 

to reflect on how this day in our country one year ago 

was not only the violent insurrection on our nation’s capital 

but was also a holy day in the Christian tradition.

Troubling because so much violence has been done in the name of Christianity.

Fascinating because the holy day is a day we call: Epiphany. 

Which means: to reveal.

What was and has been revealed on that day – and in the year since?

  • That our democracy was more fragile than ever 
  • That we are perhaps more divided than we thought 
  • That people with White bodies can get away with a lot more in this country than people with Black and Brown bodies  
  • That you don’t have to be a part of an extremist group to cause great harm 

Epiphany is the day when we tell the story of the three wise folx who visit the infant Jesus.

It is a story about following the light.

And it is a story about being changed by what is revealed.

After the wise men encounter the child, they must go home by a different road,

Because to go home by the same road would risk losing what they had grown to love.

This day has changed us. Much has been revealed.

And we may need to travel down a different road than we anticipated 

to repair the harm, 

And to protect what we love 

and to embody what we stand for. 

One road I found that is easy to travel down after January 6th is the road of fear and rage. 

Both of which can be righteous and can serve us in the right time and place.

Our fear and our rage help us get clear about what is at stake. 

But in order to transform our nation, 

In order to heal our communities, 

we must move from and toward our longing.

We must be able to say what it is we hope for and dream of — not just what we are against. 

To pray – is really to utter our longing.  

And so tonight I invite us into a spirit of prayer 

whether you pray to God, to Allah, or to the Spirit of the Divine made alive in the trees and chickadee. 

Whether you recognize divinity or lean into humanity as your guide – I invite us to share a collective uttering of what we long for. 

And to stand together for just a moment in that longing — 

to stand both in the diversity of what we bring, and to stand in what we share.

I long for a world where every voice is heard and every vote is counted.

I long for a world that honors the voice of our neighbor even if it is different. 

I long for a world where the health of our neighbor matters and much as your own. 

Neighbors – say it out loud – let your neighbor hear you – what do you long for tonight?

May the breath of prayer be upon the people of our nation, 

May the intention of our prayers serve the wellbeing of every person, land, and creation we live amongst.

May the extension of our prayers tonight – be made alive in the hands and the feet and the voices of those who seek to heal our nation, even in us. May it be so. 

I’ll close with a couple of excerpts written by the poet, Amanda Gorman, who finished these words for the inaugural poem last year just days after the attack on the capital: 

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

…because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.