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On the eve...

searching for canaan

So folks…It’s about that time…the day we have been gearing up for months now. Yes, the election. Tuesday, November 3. Also known as tomorrow. 

(Don’t worry this isn’t going to turn into a column about who you should vote for and why—we are far past that point.)

As we find ourselves here on the eve of the election, and recognize the massive impact it will hold, it can very easily become one of the most anxiety-inducing thoughts. We turn over all that will happen as we wait tomorrow and what is to come once the results are out and the decision is truly final. 

As we head into what is sure to be a very long day, and some long weeks to come, I searched to offer words of comfort and a reminder that there is still the possibility for hope, community and decency among us. I did not just want to offer this through words; instead I wanted to show you what community looks like, both in word and in action. 

So this week, I offer you a place to find hope and community, through prayer. 

It is a piece constructed by Duke students from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian backgrounds. These voices remind us to keep the faith, find the hope, the good and the love in everything, even as we may find ourselves anxious and uncertain in dealing with this thing we call life. 

So please pray with us, 

O’ Lord, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

Grant our nation the patience and resilience to strive in the upcoming days,

United under the principles of love, justice and faith.

Strengthen the bonds between our diverse communities,

Removing any conflict or hostility that may lie among us.

Forgive us if we may have hurt others with our words or actions,

And accept our repentance, as your forgiveness is vaster than our sins.

Guide us towards what is good, just and kind.

Illuminate our souls and minds with your light

So that we may have the strength to protect our neighbors.

Most Generous, we ask you to embrace the most vulnerable,

Keep us far from the evil that is apparent and the evil that is unseen

And allow us to continue to learn from one another.

Save those who are suffering,

And let us awaken with your blessings.

As we approach Election Day and subsequent days of uncertainty, we acknowledge that compounded with the pandemic, these have been stressful times. 

As we face these challenges together, let us remember Krishna’s lesson from the Bhagavad Gita to see “one undivided imperishable reality within all diverse living beings (18:20)." 

While we may not always agree with those close to us on issues represented in the election, let us continue to respect and value others and recognize that togetherness and uplifting one another are essential for our path forward.

Whether or not the outcome of the election is one we anticipate, let us continue to relentlessly strive, as a community, to fight “the darkness born of ignorance with the shining lamp of wisdom (10:11).” 

As we move forward, let us remain together, united by compassion in our pursuit for justice and peace in our communities.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” This year, we have fielded many surprises and unexpected outcomes. It seems we are constantly reminded of how much of our lives is beyond our control.

No matter if the outcome of the election tomorrow is a happy surprise for each of us or not, we are all looking toward our shared future. 

We pray that we are able to come together for the growth of our nation despite uncertainties that lay ahead. 

We pray that our communities can be united in the pursuit of justice, peace, and freedom. 

In Jewish tradition, even in the darkest of times, we recall that ulai yesh tikvah, “there may yet be hope (Lamentations 3:29).” 

May we all, too, carry such hope into the future.

As we enter into this evening, let us remember the words of Jesus when He said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).”  

Let us be reminded that when these words call us to love those like and unlike us. 

Not just on the surface and not just when we feel like it, but always. 

Allow us to be reminded that loving means to see humanity in one another.

One the eve of this election, let us be reminded that regardless of the outcome of tomorrow, that we can–and we must–still move toward liberation and justice for all. 

Whether we find ourselves certain or anxious, let us remember that regardless of what tomorrow may bring, we the people–we the beloved community–still have the power to stand with one another. To lift each other up. And to find power within the community that surrounds us. 

Going into tomorrow, countless prayers will be uttered, from both sides of this election, and when it is all said and done some will feel answered and some will feel forsaken.  And we ask that in that moment you allow those who feel forsaken to find peace and solace,

Whoever they may be.

Amen. 

Tatayana Richardson is a Trinity senior who is extremely thankful to Sarah Jacobs, Brooke Scheinberg, Rachel Radvany, Dan Crair, Marium Khan, Sahar Kaleem, Mihir Patel and Rohin Maganti for helping write this column. Tatayana's column "searching for Canaan" runs on alternate Mondays.

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