litterally staring chaos in the face

I recently met a young woman whose sister was severely injured in Iraq. It has been a few years since she came home, but it sounds like every day is still a struggle. She faces many reconstructive surgeries for the physical damage. The psychological damage sounds fairly extreme was well. I can't tell you how much her story touched me. It brought the sheer horror of war home to me in a very real and concrete way.

Sadly, I'm afraid her story is not unusual - as the recent scandal at Walter Reed pointed out. According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website over 24,000 members of the US military have been wounded in Iraq as of February 3, 2007. The
New York Times tells us that more than 160,000 women have been deployed to Iraq. One in every 10 US Soldiers in Iraq is female. Women are generally limited to "combat-support" roles in Iraq, but with the chaos that is daily life in Iraq this does not equate to safety. Many women drive trucks as "combat support," which means they are targets for roadside bombs and ambushes. As a result, both women and men are being killed (of the 3,602 confirmed US deaths, 79 are women).

Even the term "wounded" is misleading. It sounds so neat and clean, yet from the countless stories I've read in the media as well as the story I heard about this woman's sister this is far from the truth. Limbs lost. Skin severely burned. Facial deformities. Burned lungs. And psychological and emotional scarring as well.

I've been praying daily for and end to this war ever since it started on St Joseph's Day 4 years ago. For our men and women who put their lives on the line because their government asks them to. For our coalition forces. For the hundreds upon thousands of innocent Iraqi women, men and children who have been devastated by this war - loved ones lost, limbs lost, homes and livelihood lost. Hearing this woman's story has brought the need to work and pray for peace home even more.

And so it is fitting that I received this week's peace prayer via e-mail from my west coast groovy sisters this evening. We pray as a community for peace each Tuesday afternoon. This week's prayer is such a perfect expression of the wordless prayers that have been moving in my heart:
Gracious God we pray for peace on earth.
For peace that is life-giving:
For peace that is love-bearing:
For peace that is true freedom:
For peace that is purposeful:
For peace that is prevailing.

Gracious God, we pray for children in time of war;
They are so defenseless.
We pray for the old;
They are unable to escape danger quickly.
We pray for those with physical disabilities;
They are at the mercy of others.
We pray for women; they are so vulnerable to abuse.
We pray for the innocent; they suffer for the unjust desires of others

We pray for those whose lives will be changed by war:
Those who are blinded;
Those who are burned;
Those who lose limbs;
Those who lose their reason;
Those who lose their peace of mind;
Those who lose their health and strength for ever.

Above all we pray for those in anguish;
Those whose lives will never be the same again;
Those who have lost their loved ones;
Those who have lost their lives.

God deepen our desire for peace;
Restore our resolve for peace;
Increase our intent to work for peace.
Give us Christ to be our peace.

Pamela Wilding, Kenya
Prayers Encircling the World

Please join me in praying for peace in our world, in our homes, and in our very hearts.


Kelly_SSJ/A said...

amen to that prayer! May we all work for unity and peace....

Judith said...

Hi Susan,

This is so lovely! I sent it to my priest (with attribution, of course!). I come from a military family, but I am just appalled at what's happening in Iraq!

Thank you for posting this!