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#prayformanchester

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Social media is once again full of posts offering support and prayer for those caught up in the horrific and brutally callous terrorist attack in Manchester. As I sit at home and go through the motions of my own morning prayer routine I seriously wonder what to pray for...
The dead...lives snuffed violently and indiscriminately because a warped ideology has decreed that their joy is an abomination.
The injured...changed in an instant and forever carrying wounds, both visible and invisible that will alter the course of their lives and the lives of those who love them.
The grieving...the statistics can never equate to the searing pain of loss nor the ripples of grief that will permeate families and communities from now on.
Those still searching for lost children — unbearable, unimaginable, indescribable fear.
The emergency services — that enormous group of people we lump together under one umbrella heading and yet who constantly and often namelessly risk life and save life; who witness so much and yet still turn up for the next shift ('Thank you' is inadequate.)
Survivors who will always live with the shadow of their guilt at being so lucky.
Politicians and leaders who must decide how to respond whilst weighing up the public's response to their actions.
Our attackers — pathetic, brainwashed cowards who target children. (At the moment I have only anger and no prayer.)
#prayformanchester — it is such an easy phrase but in the sadly familiar aftermath, as we repeat oft said statements, I do not know what to pray for.
There is one image from this morning's news that spoke to me. It was the image of the parents waiting outside the arena for their children: young people stream down the stairs in front of them in panic; the parents' wait anxiously, desperately wanting to go and find their child but knowing the best option is to wait where they are. I too have waited for my children in similar places and even under normal circumstances there is a level of anxiety; having given your child freedom you long to have them close. However I have never waited amidst screaming, running people; I have never waited following an explosion caused by someone who intended to murder my child. These parents should run, get away from danger, ensure their safety and yet because they love so much they wait. To be present amidst horror, terror and panic, chaos, pain & uncertainty is the greatest act of love anyone can perform. To be present for another is a divine action.
Those of us not directly involved are present today; we watch the news and cry at the personal tragedies that unfold; for the next few days we will listen for updates but then our life moves on.
Those close to events will not have that luxury; they will require the presence of friends and strangers to be with them in their grief and trauma; willing companions to listen patiently as the story is told & retold; safe hands to help carry the burden of pain and committed individuals who will give of their time to enable communities to heal.
So maybe my prayer is that all of us may have the courage to be present for another; that pain maybe named and the unspeakable spoken off; that politicians and leaders, both secular and religious, may listen more intently; that all the talk of 'being stronger together' may be realised in committed action towards the common good.
Maybe my #prayformanchester is that we, wherever we find ourselves, may be the answer to our own prayers through our willingness to be present for others.

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