Ballots and Prayers

Ballots and Prayers

Last week in this space I wrote of the intensity of living here in the epicenter of U.S. political life, and I offered my gratitude for your devoted participation in our imperfect democracy. That intensity has grown only stronger in the week since then, as we have witnessed (or experienced directly) multiple and deadly instances of hate and white supremacy and gun violence and anti-Semitism and misogyny.

All fueled by the relentless and incessantly racist, hateful, derisive rhetoric of the current President of the U.S.

I am angry and resentful and weary. And if you know me at all, you know it takes a lot to provoke expressions of rage and outrage from me.

Like the intense political climate, my gratitude also has grown only stronger as I’ve witnessed your engagement through this week of early voting. Thank you. 

A friend said on Facebook this week, “I don’t care who you choose to vote for, just vote.” I commented, “For the record: I DO care who you choose to vote for. But I’ll respect your right to make a choice that disagrees with mine, as long as you make an informed, conscientious one.”

I really do care. I have invested a lot of personal hope in the outcome of these midterm elections — hope that there will be enough changes in leadership that we will have greater power not only to resist, but to confront, the hatred and racism and xenophobia that are infecting our lives.

In the meantime, recognizing that there’s only so much that any one of us can do in this moment, I offer as possible sustenance two relevant and topical poetic prayers that recently came to my attention. The first is Tess Baumberger’s Prayer on the Eve of an Election (click the hyperlink to read the prayer). The other is Luke Stevens-Royer’s Prayer Ballot, which I’ll paste here in its entirety, and with gratitude:

“Prayer Ballot”, by Luke Stevens-Royer
(written for the Presidential Election, 2016)

I walk in, as on pilgrimage.
The altar cloths are red, white, and blue
the ushers are the women
who have been running these things
who have been running everything
since before I was born.

I’m handed the ballot
like a scroll
because the questions
seem that important—
ancient and modern
of what my God and country
ask of me:

Who—for commissioner, mayor, president—
who—for district 8, ward 7, school board—
who—will do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly?

I make my mark
with at least a shred of hope
that something good will come from this.

And regardless, I remember:
the world won’t be destroyed, entirely, by this;
the world won’t be saved, entirely, by this.

Marking my vote
is like kneeling in prayer
because neither will accomplish
anything right away—
but the purpose of both
is to remind me
of my deepest hope
for the world that I’m trying to help create.

So I rise from prayer,
and turn in my ballot
and remember the who is me,
and us, and we the people—
and again I set to the task that is mine:
justice, mercy, humble service
in my small corner of the world.

Amen. Blessed be. May it be so.

Yours in faith,


  1. Gail Thompson Guy

    My prayer is: if everyone can vote does cast a ballot, we could know the real will of the people. I could live with that even if it is not my will. I serve as an election judge to ensure that each vote is secure. Gail

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