A Prayer for God’s Children Falling from the Sky

Dear God,

I heard first that 295 of your daughters and sons were killed on the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine today. Now the number is 298. Ah well, three more souls, no big deal.

Gracious One, what’s happening to us? We can’t seem to stop blowing each other up. Let’s see: Amish school girls, Connecticut first graders and teachers, Colorado folks out to catch a movie, and just yesterday, four boys playing soccer on a Gaza beach.

And now, almost three hundred of your children fall from the sky. I confess, their descent haunts me. You know, I hate flying. While in flight, I imagine the plane nose down, spiraling toward the earth. On impact, my face and chest smash into the seat in front of me. It would happen so fast I wouldn’t experience any pain, but in my nightmare I feel it all.

And I’ve dreamed—many times, even safe on the ground—something like what happened today in Ukraine: the plane in pieces and me stunned in the frigid air, the ground rushing toward me. At 33,000 feet, would you pass out on your way down and die before landing? It doesn’t matter, God, I’m awake for everything, including the instant crush of death.

In an odd way, this prayer is selfish. Not everybody on that plane out of Amsterdam was blessed to die when the missile hit the plane, blessed to pass from this world to you as they slept, one head resting on a beloved shoulder or held hands or said, “You know, in Kuala Lumpur we’ll have to . . . .” Some must have shot out into the open air and at least for a couple of seconds reckoned, traveling through cloud-blindness to the sight of green fields, the immediate future.

It’s these brothers and sisters I’m praying for. I have no clue how you work and whether it’s possible to ask you for a grace whose time has already passed. Well, I’m asking anyway. This is crazy, but may it be so that you touched the wicked shock of your children’s last moments. I dream this prayer:

They soared above oxygen, but you gave them the breath of peace. They spun and somersaulted, but you spoke into the ear of their hearts: “Laugh and love the view. I’ll catch you on the ground.” They didn’t grieve what they never said to those they loved because you comforted them: “I’ve prepared a place for you—all of you.” Most of all, you helped them stay awake, free from fear, and they said, “Mercy, so this is what it’s like to fly!” Then they woke up, and you were cradling them, looking into their eyes.

“What was that place?” they asked you. “I remember loving and crying. Why were we always hurting each other?”

But since you were holding them, they forgot the question. They had flown, and you had caught them. What bomb or bullet could touch them now?

In eternity, God, may needful answers descend slowly upon all of us. And may our arms be used only for embracing.

Amen

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18 thoughts on “A Prayer for God’s Children Falling from the Sky

    • Thanks, Mary. That means a lot. I just wish compassion weren’t so costly. But it is what it is, I guess. Peace.

  1. John, I also am deeply affected by this latest atrocity. I share your empathy and your vivid imagination unfortunately. Every flight for me I wonder about all the hypotheticals. I wonder just how fragile our lives are and how little we count in the wider scheme of things, and then inevitably I take refuge with my God, trusting in his grace and mercy and knowing that whatever happens he thinks I am worthy. I think I will publish this comment above your post in my own blog. Hope you don’t mind. You have a way of saying what I would have liked to if I had put some thought into it.
    Rob

  2. Reblogged this on Robfysh's Blog and commented:
    John, I also am deeply affected by this latest atrocity. I share your empathy and your vivid imagination unfortunately. Every flight for me I wonder about all the hypotheticals. I wonder just how fragile our lives are and how little we count in the wider scheme of things, and then inevitably I take refuge with my God, trusting in his grace and mercy and knowing that whatever happens he thinks I am worthy. I think I will publish this comment above your post in my own blog. Hope you don’t mind. You have a way of saying what I would have liked to if I had put some thought into it.
    All of those people lost as if they counted for nothing. I am saddened.

    • Wow. Thanks for re-posting, or whatever they call it. What makes me really struggle, Rob, is a place I’m coming to spiritually. The thesis: everything, every little flower, baby, squirrel, and grannie matters incredibly. It’s only my belief, but I feel like everything is precious to God, and we’re really squashing the crap out of treasures. Oh well, despair doesn’t do much good. As you say, “trusting in grace and mercy.” Yup!

  3. Thanks, John. I needed your way with words and thoughts, especially regarding the many recent examples of inhumanity by humans. Why, indeed, O God are we so depraved toward one another?

    • Yeah, right. The world hurts these days. Glad you found a little comfort in last nights porch writing/praying. John

  4. It is unfathomable what took place yesterday. Thank you for painting a beautiful and hopeful vision of what those pour souls may have experienced in the face of such horror.

    • Thanks, Nancy. Weird thing is, I was working on a post that was heading in a genuinely glad direction. Had to stop and name the elephant, as it were. John

      • Hard not to. What an atrocity. As much as we tried to stop talking about it, especially during our evening lakeside walk, we kept going back to, “how could this have happened??” It’s shameful. Some days I’m ashamed to be human.

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