Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful He is in his doing toward all people. Psalm 66:4
Show me Your marvelous loving-kindness, O Savior toward those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep each as the apple of Your eye; hide each under the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:7–8
So the click of the NPR early morning voice was a story about the Christians who are being pushed out of Iraq by ISIS.
In an unfinished building in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, displaced Christian children sing a little song about returning to their village. "We're going back," they sing, "to our houses, our land, our church."
And I paid attention because this was our Christmas present from my mom this year, buying blankets and food and pots and pans for these refugees. But the story was about a Dominican monk who has been smuggling out ancient manuscripts: Last summer, when ISIS was inching closer, Michaeel took action. He prepared everything and put the collection in a big truck at 5 a.m.
"We passed three checkpoints without any problem, and I think the Virgin Mary had a hand to protect us," he says.
And what touched my heart was thinking about four hundred years of faithfulness. And leaving a library of 10,000 books behind. And all of the hearts and souls that touched those books through the centuries. And monasteries and churches have been looted and used as prisons or torture chambers by the extremists.
And my heart is tender this morning, in the dark quiet of Sunday morning, as I wander through my prayers with friends and family against whom life has risen up. One whose beloved brother is dead of cancer and the corresponding family upheavals. Another walking with her sister through a shadowed valley of chemo treatments and unspoken indignities. The flu muck is pounding its way through the entire extended VoelkelSchaberCoverdaleTurner family. And one by one, I work my thoughts down the fixed prayers, a pause and a glance inward as I plea for tangible lovingkindness to wrap its warm arms around each in my heart. The list is long, and in the background I hear the rumbling of the trucks in Erbil.
And my Sunday morning prayers conclude with my favorite, well, one of my favorite Dawn Treader quotes, because maybe each of us is Lucy:
But no one except Lucy knew that as (the seagull) circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.
Bow Your heavens, O LORD, and come down.