Members of the Awake community gathered last week in a leafy clearing in Milwaukee’s Estabrook Park for a summer prayer service that included scripture, hymns, and poetry.
Cathy Melesky Dante, Awake’s chaplain, began the event with a message of hope. “A lot of our work is understandably somber and heavy,” she said. “But this prayer service is designed to be a time of encouragement, peace, and maybe even joy. We’re especially going to focus on gratitude for the gift of God’s creation.” A recording of the 22-minute prayer service, ideal for personal reflection, is available here.
Attendees included members of the Awake Leadership Team, Board of Directors, and other Catholics from the community. The evening’s music was led by Jonathan Kuta and Kate Sponholz. The group opened with “The Canticle of the Sun” and then listened to Psalm 96, which includes the lines:
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice
before the Lord who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with faithfulness.
Appreciating Nature, Praying for Each Other
Other readings included an excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, read by Laura Hancock of the Awake Prayer Team, and the poem “When I Am Among the Trees” by Mary Oliver, read by Awake Leadership Team member Sara Knutson.
The final lines of the poem are:
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
During intercessions, in-person and online attendees offered prayer intentions, and then Cathy Dante prayed specifically for abuse survivors in the Awake community, “both those whose names we share now, and those who wish to remain anonymous,” she said.
As the sun began to set, Laura Hancock offered this Celtic blessing:
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.
A special thank you to photographer LaTasha Lux @LuxPhotography for taking the photos of the prayer service.