Lord, oh the Great and Almighty, protect our beloved Ukraine,
Bless her with freedom and light of your holy rays.
With learning and knowledge enlighten us, your children small,
In love pure and everlasting let us, oh Lord, grow.
We pray, oh Lord Almighty, protect our beloved Ukraine,
Grant our people and country all your kindness and grace.
Bless us with freedom, bless us with wisdom, guide into kind world,
Bless us, oh Lord, with good fortune for ever and evermore.
SNL’s cold open over the weekend was a hymn sung by The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (lyrics above.)
This was a choice the writers didn’t have to make. They could have gone with a satire about Putin or a Lonely Island video about Chernobyl. It could have been funny because – Lord knows – we need funny. But they went with healing.
It was healing in the same way the cold open was healing on December 15, 2012 – the Saturday night after the Sandy Hook massacre when a children’s chorus sang Silent Night.
I attended a stirring funeral service over the weekend and among the takeaways is that most of us send sympathy cards that offer our thoughts and prayers. Much has been said about the cliche of “thoughts and prayers” over the past years.
Everytime there’s a school shooting or a immigration catastrophe or a flood, we routinely offer them and then nothing much changes.
Someone eulogized at the same funeral that we show our affection and empathy by doing more than thinking and praying with our brains. Sharing food, making a phone call, and visiting on a random Tuesday afternoon infuse us with something holy. There are gestures we can offer that actually bring healing.
The Library of Congress Magazine this month includes an article recently called “The Book That Saved a Life” about a French soldier named Maurice Hamonneau whose life was spared in battle because the book Kim by Rudyard Kipling was in his shirt pocket and it stopped the bulletin. Hamonneau sent the book to Kipling whose own son had recently died in a different battle.
Hamonneau didn’t have to do that. But he did, and it was a healing gesture. The gesture probably helped heal Hamonneau as well as Kipling.
Lent begins this week and imagine a Lenten season where we devote ourselves to simple gestures of healing. What do we have that might bring healing if we gave it to someone else?
An extra coat? A medal? A family treasure? A handwritten letter? I believe that if we made healing gestures a way of life – instead of offering mere thoughts and prayers – the world can indeed be truly healed.