The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Connecting with the Heart: Pandemic Prayers and Joyful Poetry

October 14, 2020

Seven months ago, Words of Connection was launched with some beautiful prayers written expressly for those of us that felt deeply concerned about life under the pandemic. Bearing this in mind, it looked like a good moment to present some prayers that had appeared more recently. Selecting prayers is not easy. Many appear on-line, but most sound as though we’ve heard them before, many times. It seems right to find original prayers that resonate with the strangeness of the moment.


We open with two prayers, one is an interfaith prayer, the other is penned by Sister Christine Koelhoffer. This is followed by a spiritual and topical poem by N. Scott Momaday, the Native American poet and novelist. We close on a joyful  note with a poem designed to remind us of the importance of happiness by the Palestinian American poet – Naomi Shihab Nye.

Take care at this uncertain and difficult time.

Thank you so very much for your interest and enthusiasm.

Very best wishes

Chair IFCG




 In the hour of Covid-19
We ask the loving tides of calm…
Overcome the wild waves of uncertainty
We ask that those tides
Restore the spirit of peace
To the young, old, fearful,
Imprisoned and overlooked

In the hour of sorrow…
We ask compassion to be heard
A voice of warmth for the frail and forgotten
Resonating softly; quieting fears of the moment
Bringing peace to anxious souls

With hope and calm,
trust and understanding
We can overcome the countless sorrows
Dreads and doubts that have visited us
Day after day, week after week
During these sad, strange days

May the Divine Spirit
of peace and compassion
See us and hear us –
humanity in all its frailty
May you give strength to us
So that we may face this pandemic
And be healed by your love
Love everlasting
Love without end


Sister Christine Koelhoffer

Loving God, Your desire is for wholeness and well-being.
We hold in tenderness and prayer the collective suffering of our world at this time.
We grieve precious lives lost and vulnerable lives threatened.
We ache for ourselves and our neighbours, standing before an uncertain future.
We pray: may love, not fear, go viral.
Inspire our leaders to discern and choose wisely, aligned to the common good.
Help us to practice social distancing and reveal to us new and creative ways to come together in spirit and solidarity.
Call us to profound trust in your faithful presence,
You, the God who does not abandon.


N. Scott Momaday

We keep indoors.
When we dare to venture out
We are cautious. Our neighbours
Smile, but in their eyes there is
Reserve and suspicion.
They keep their distance,
As we do ours, in mute accord.
Much of our fear is unspoken,
For there is at last the weight of custom,
The tender of rote consolation.
We endure thoughts of demise
And measure the distance of death.
Death too wears a mask.
But consider, there may well be good
In our misfortune if we can find it. It is
Hidden in the darkness of our fear.
But discover it and see that it is hope
And more; it is the gift of opportunity.
We have the rare chance to prevail,
To pose a resolution for world renewal.
We can be better than we have ever been.
We can improve the human condition.
We can imagine, then strive to realize,
Our potential for goodness and morality.
We can overcome pestilence, war and poverty.
We can preserve our sacred purpose. We can
Determine who we are in our essential nature
And who we can be. We are committed to this end
For our own sake and for the sake of those
Who will come after us. There is a better future,
And we can secure it. Let us take up the task, and
Let us be worthy of our best destiny.

Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.