In securing the release of the three American soldiers held in Yugoslavia, Jesse Jackson, Joan Brown Campbell and the other U.S. religious leaders who traveled to Belgrade pulled off a dramatic, unexpected success. On behalf of the soldiers, and in an effort to maintain contact with religious communities in Yugoslavia, the delegation made a risky journey.
We're all perpetually longing for love. Fortunate are those who realize early that another human being can't meet this unrequitable need. Even more fortunate are men and women of prayer who realize that peace comes by embracing the longing itself.
America's propensity to see
ourselves as God's new chosen nation has often led us to claim scripture
directed at Israel (or Judah) as promises for ourselves. While such
thinking generally makes me squirm, I can re-apply such interpretations
to see how they apply to the modern world.
Prayer. We read, write, talk and agonize about it, resolve to do it, wish we’d done it more than we actually do it. In this it resembles other pursuits of which people overestimate the intensity, frequency and duration—such as reading, writing and sex.
"I want my seminary experience to form me as a person of prayer.” We had never heard a student state this desire so eloquently and succinctly. We sensed in this comment something much more than a first-year student’s desire for greater piety in the school environment. This student had done extremely well at a college with a strong undergraduate program.
We call prayer at Taizé “common prayer,” not the “office,” which suggests a work obligation: “We do our office,” “We do what we ought to do.” That doesn’t correspond to the way we experience prayer in our lives. To say prayer is “common” is to say that it brings us together.