The psalms appointed for morning prayer in The Book of Common Prayer today included Psalm 44, and I couldn't help but think of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria with these words on their lips: We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your countenance, for you delighted in them.
You are my King and my God; you command victories for Jacob. Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down our assailants. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes, and have put to confusion those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name for ever.
Yet you have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies. You made us turn back from the foe, and our enemies have taken spoil for themselves. You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations. You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughing-stock among the peoples. All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the words of the taunters and revilers, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten you, or been false to your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way, yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread out our hands to a strange god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. And as the final words of this psalm come around, I can't help but think that the hands and feet and deeds they seek from God are the ones given by God to me--and you.
Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off for ever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
As I began morning prayer today, I chanted Psalm 67. And as I chanted May God be merciful to us and bless us show us the light of her countenance and come to us my daughter, Anastasia, joined in. She's heard me chant this psalm for months as part of my participation in the life of the Community of St. Mary of the Annunciation, and now the words that have been on my lips are on hers. She interrupted me as I continued. "Should we pray for...?" At midday prayer, especially when we're praying in my community's oratory (St. James Chapel of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church), we lift up our prayers for others. Anastasia names all of her favorite people, including characters from stories she likes. After this morning's litany of names, she declared, "And that's it." But that's not it. Just after prayer, I encountered a new litany of names--the names of the girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped last month by the religious terrorist group, Boko Haram:
Today, during noon-day prayer, I will name aloud each girl who is listed here. These daughters of devastated parents are also my sisters in creation, and I owe them my attention. I am struck by my feeling of powerlessness in this horrific situation, but I recognize that I can use the power of my voice. I can pray. I can blog. I can keep bringing it up on Facebook and Twitter and every other place where my voice has daily and extensive reach. Two dear friends of mine--both of them publishers--are helping me empower the creative voices of others, as well. When light is shone in the dark, darkness is made bright. Every voice is a candle whose light, when shared, brightens. I invite you to lift up your voice, your light, with mine. When the voices of the whole world rise up in a chorus, maybe we'll be able to #bringbackourgirls.
In a unique collaboration between Fey Publishing and Solarwyrm Press, and thanks to an idea put together by M. Kate Allen, a new anthology of short stories will be produced at the end of May 2014 in honor of the over two-hundred Nigerian girls who were kidnapped at gunpoint by the religious terrorists of Boko Haram on April 14, 2014. All proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to http://www.notforsalecampaign.org, an organization that seeks to uncover and put a stop to human trafficking and slavery of all kinds.
The stories in this anthology will address enslaving and enslavement. To the extent that you, the writer, are free from the dangers and enslavement that these Nigerian girls and millions of others presently suffer, you are asked to take great care in considering your own privilege as you weave your tale. The stories in this anthology will seek to name the dynamics of privilege and unjust, unearned power and also seek to highlight ways in which those who are powerless may be thwarted or lifted up by any number of outer or inner forces. Writers are particularly encouraged to explore silence, indifference, and ignorance as forms of oppression.
This is a chance for people whose voices are free to join together to speak powerfully for the sake of those whose voices have been stolen away. The money raised from the sales of this anthology will do financially what the stories of this anthology aim to do narratively: contribute to a culture of liberation that reveals, names, and destroys all forms of oppression.
All short stories should be between 1,500 and 5,000 words long. All submissions are due to Jax Goss (solarwyrm at gmail dot com), editor at Solarwyrm Press and the editor of this anthology, by May 15, 2014 at 11:59PM Pacific time. The anthology is due to be published on or around May 31, 2014 by Kristen Duvall of Fey Publishing. Any questions about the content of the short stories, the fundraiser for the Not For Sale Campaign, or any other aspect of the anthology may be directed to M. Kate Allen at lifeloveliturgy at gmail dot com or at http://www.lifeloveliturgy.com. Note: I invite you to share this call for submissions far and wide, whether by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or on your own blog. I also personally invite readers of Thealogical Lady to consider submitting a story for this anthology. Thank you.