Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ for the victims of Grenfell

A novena is an ancient rhythm of prayer repeated over nine hours or nine days consecutively. It is believed that the first novenas, which means 'nine' in Latin, trace their origins to pre-Christian Greek and Roman customs performed by families mourning the death of a loved one, followed by a feast ~ because death must always be woven back into life. Since then they have become more general prayers and devotions to the Divine, often dedicated to a particular saint or to the Virgin Mary.

This is an invitation to join, each full moon, in nine days of simple any-faith prayer in solidarity with those who have 'fallen through' and who cry out for justice. In this way we will seek to weave an act of sacred activism, holding all who are in pain, who may feel lost and ignored, and those who are working for truth and liberty, in threads of wild prayer, fierce hope, and deep community.

In October we will lift prayers for the victims of the Grenfell Towerfire, which took place on 14th June 2017. The official death toll estimates the number of dead to be 80, with 70 injured. However, the local community believe that many more died and are calling for justice. You can read my 'Prayer for Grenfell' here. The fire is subject to a Public Inquiry which was opened on 14th September. Evidence gathering hearings will begin this month. Although the inquiry has been cautiously welcomed the nature of a Public Inquiry is the that Government, whose policies and Austerity measures are implicated in this tragedy, is able to set its terms. Many have described the Grenfell Tower fire as 'corporate manslaughter and, in many ways, it is the Government, and local Government, who are on trial. The community continue to call for a Public Inquest, which would be managed a coroner, instead.

Many of those who died or who lost their homes and their friends were poor, many were immigrants and refugees who fled war in order to find safety for themselves and their families in our land. It is feared that many of their names will never be known. That their deaths will be buried in ashes, in the darkness and confusion of a tower block stairwell. That justice will never be done.

In October's novena we will dedicate our prayers to goddess and St Brigid, who watches over the triple fires of creativity, healing, and transformation, and who, as goddess and saint, offers a hopeful bridge between spiritual traditions. We will lift prayers for the victims of Grenfell, whether dead or homeless, whether scarred in body or in mind, for the Emergency Services who came to their aid, for our press to report truthfully, for justice to be done, for healing, for hearth and home, for lost creativity and possibility, and for fire to be made holy again.

Each day for nine days I will write a prayer dedicated to St Brigid and to one of the aspects of the Grenfell fire and its victims, and share them here. If you would like to join with me, which would be a blessing, then you need only set aside a few minutes each day and perhaps light a candle for hope, for healing, for renewal, and for justice to be done, together with making your prayer using the words that I share or your own. If you prefer not to pray, but would like to support this work, please do light a candle and/or keep our work in mind.

Earlier today someone left a comment for me on social media saying, "don't waste your time on prayers. Do something real instead." Whilst I broadly agree with that sentiment ~ it does matter to make real in the world what we call for in our prayers ~ I have two replies to that comment, although there are many more. Firstly, raising awareness and keeping an event such as the Grenfell Tower, which could be so easily swept under the collective carpet, IS 'doing something real'. And, secondly, prayers are very real. At the very least, they create shared experience and connection, both between people and with whatever, or whoever, we might consider Divine/sacred. In our disconnected world that in itself is a radical act. I believe that both prayer and the call for justice are sacred acts of radical and beautiful resistance. Together we can change the world.

“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.” (Andrew Harvey)

If you would like to join in with us on Facebook there's an event page here.


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