If you are like me, you did not know the name of the Chaplain to the United States Senate until this past two weeks. Chaplain Barry Black, pictured above, became quite well known during the recent government shutdown for the one minute prayers he offered each time the Senate was in session, something he has been doing for the last ten years. Black says that his Senate prayers are simply a conversation he is having with God. He adds, “The fact that the Senators overhear it, is just one of the fortuitous advantages of what I do.” During the shutdown, it seems that it was not just the Senators that were overhearing Black's prayers, but the entire country. The magnitude of the chaplain's popularity was confirmed when he was featured in a Saturday Night Live television skit this past weekend. If you happened to miss some of the most publicized lines from Black's prayers, here are a few of them:
“Have mercy upon us, O God, save us from the madness.”
“Forgive them for the blunders they have committed.”
“Remove them from that stubborn pride.”
“Give them a hatred of all hypocrisy, deceit and shame as they seek to replace them with gentleness, patience and truth.”
“Inspire them to take a step back from partisanship and to take a step forward toward patriotism, striving to strengthen and not weaken this land we love.”
“Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”
This is a weekly column about wellness and if you are wondering what this all has to do with wellness, here's the connection. Whenever any of us get stuck or off track, either personally or in relationships with others, turning to our spirituality is often the best way to get unstuck and move forward. This is because spirituality speaks of the universal truths in life, truths that are easy for us to forget when we are in the midst of conflict with ourselves or with others.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said, “Chaplain Black has the respect of everyone--Republicans and Democrats.” Authentic spirituality transcends differences and invites everyone to a genuine humility and self-reflection. When we are lost in the wilderness of our pride and self-righteousness, spirituality provides a compass by which we can find our direction forward again.
The next time any of us are in the midst of a conflict with someone we care about, whether at work or at home, I hope we can remember and take to heart the prayers of our Senate Chaplain. If we do, it just might help deliver us from the hypocrisy of trying to sound reasonable while we are being unreasonable. Or it might help us to remove our stubborn pride. Or it might help us to ask for forgiveness for the blunders we have committed. Or perhaps, best of all, it might help us to take a step back from the partisanship in our lives and instead take a step forward toward the person or persons that we love most.
Thank you Chaplain Barry Black for reminding us of the positive influence that both spirituality and prayer can have in making us well.