Ocean Lament

Am I the only one who experiences a profound disconnect these days between our lives of prayer (and what we think is important to bring into God’s presence) and the catastrophe happening in the Gulf of Mexico? The intercessions at my parish this morning, beautiful as they were, did not seem to know anything of the ecocide taking place in the ocean off the Louisiana coast and reaching into the fragile coastlands and all life-forms that depend on them, humans included. I myself struggled, when the congregation was invited to add our own intercessions to the ones that had been read, to formulate my prayer of lament and intercession.
In contradistinction, listening to the hour-long BBC news this afternoon, I found that no less than the first 20 minutes(!) were dedicated to the disaster in the Gulf.
Why the disconnect? When Haiti was hit by an earthquake earlier this year, we did not find it so difficult to pray. Are we at a loss now because this disaster is human-made? Because there is no end in sight? Or because the destruction visible to us is mostly to marine life, fragile ecosystems, and beaches?
How to surround this disaster in prayer? With prayer?

Here is an Ocean Lament:

We hold in prayer and lament this day
the terrible suffering of all life-forms in the Gulf of Mexico.
We grieve the profound marring of your creation,
and the threat to coastal ways of life.
Have mercy o God, have mercy.
Grant wisdom and perseverance and to all who struggle to contain this disaster.
Let those who lost their lives rest in peace.
And send out your Holy Spirit,
to create anew the face of this earth.

Meanwhile, I recommit myself to living green and cycling to Mass.


  1. Or are we just too convinced technology, not God, will be our solution?

    We have had intercessions about the oil spill every week since we became aware of it. I think many places rely too heavily on the pre-written intercessions available from the publishers. Is there someone who is tasked with writing the intercessions each and every week? We are fortunate to have that person, but I know that many parishes are smaller and have less staff.

  2. We have prayed for all victims of the oil spill from the first week it happened also. We pray also for God’s guidance and wisdom in solving the problem.

  3. Two responses to the responses:
    I am glad to hear of every parish that prays their own Ocean Laments — and obviously, the closer in proximity to the Gulf, the more parishes will have this disaster on the top of their prayer list.
    Second, just to be clear: the oil workers who died ARE included in the Ocean Lament suggested above: “Let those who lost their lives rest in peace.” God knows who they are.

  4. One other thing: if you are interested in what an “Ocean Spirituality” might look like, see the interactive multimedia CD-ROM I co-produced titled “Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea” (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008).

  5. At the moment I live very far from the Gulf of Mexico and only rarely news on TV about it. I do feel a painful disconnect, however, between my prayer life and the news coming out of Rome…

  6. Thank you , God, for your wisdom. You knew in creating the earth and all that is on it and in it that you had to include the ability to heal itself. It has done so many times with your grace. Sometimes that means recreating itself. We who can not see the furure trust your wisdom. Oil is a natural product of your making.
    It is treated like a poison by many who do not know your
    majesty. I trust that you, as always, will take care of us and the earth you gave us in all its magnifigance. I thank you for the gift of oil when I am cold. I thank you for the gift of oil when I want to go somewhere in my car. And for its hundreds and hundreds of uses. Please help those who are suffering most from the wrong decisions of our leaders. Help them to become whole.
    We thank you Lord.

  7. Helene M. Hofmeister thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt, graceful, and inspiring prayer of thanksgiving for the natural resources God provides the world and for the wisdom to be good stewards especially our leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *