Don’t let anger overcome prayer

Dreams can be crazy things. I have a friend who swears he never remembers his dreams. I, on the other hand, sometimes remember them too well.

The other night, I was chatting in my dreams with an old friend. But in my dream, my friend was tiny — about the size of a three-month-old baby, and I was carrying her around in my arms. Her curly red hair was sticking up above a baby blanket as we shared news. What could such a bizarre dream possibly mean?

Many dreams are not as humorous. Those are the dreams that wake you with a sense of terror. The other night, in my dream my husband and I were standing in front of our garage door at our old house in Anchorage. As we pulled the door down, we discovered crude swastikas had been scrawled on the door’s panels with black paint. We looked at each other in horror, and that’s when I awakened.

A sense of dread washed over me. I was frightened and I couldn’t go back to sleep.

The genesis of this dream is not so hard to pinpoint. We are living in a time of threat and division, and we lack leadership to help us out of this dark place.

In Portland, three men, a cross-section of Americana, tried to calm a man harassing two young women, one wearing a hijab. It was heart-breaking that two fine men were killed.

Then there are the ceaseless death threats. After Kathy Griffin’s obscene display, in which she created a decapitated faux head of Donald Trump, the country rightly rose up in condemnation. But then, to prove that insanity has no sense of perspective, the inevitable death threats against her began.

A very nice man from the town where I live (Omaha) is a referee for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. After he made some calls fans objected to in an Elite Eight basketball tournament this year, he was hammered with obscene messages and death threats. Police are trying to trace the worst. But seriously, a basketball game? What’s wrong with this country?

These things haunt my dreams.

It’s easy, if you’re an activist, to become angry. It’s a natural reaction, and yet it does no good. Cultivating our own interior peace and prayer life is very important right now, and not just for our own sake. I believe our pleas do not go unheard — Saint Paul tells us the Spirit hears our groaning and prays on our behalf — and our own faith makes a difference in the world.

Franciscan Father Richard Rohr put it this way: “Our hope lies in the fact that an authentic inner life is going to change the society in which we live, just as we allow it to change us.”

In other words, our prayer life, the inner life we cultivate with God, doesn’t just bring us peace. It’s what the world needs. Its influence goes beyond our own lives. We may be tempted to think we pray in a vacuum, in our own little shell. But prayer is not just between God and me.

That’s why we shouldn’t let anger take over our efforts, no matter what the cause. If anger leads, then we become part of the problem, no better than those with whom we disagree. And we take that anger into our dreams.

You know the prayer of St. Francis: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Sometimes, when we’re really angry, that’s the hardest place to start. But it’s the most important.

The writer is formerly from Anchorage. She now lives in Omaha, Neb.

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