I’m (hopefully) coming to the end of nearly two weeks in COVID isolation—first Nate and then I tested positive for breakthrough infections. All this time at home has given me a lot more time than normal to watch TV, and catch up on what is trending in our world and culture.
The first weekend, I watched the Netflix film Don’t Look Up. It’s not for everyone—you need to have the right frame of mind and the right sense of humor for watching a satirical movie about what happens when a comet is hurtling towards earth and all life will be extinguished if our institutions and systems cannot work together to save us.
But at the end of the movie, as the end nears, a character prays a wonderfully deep and provocative prayer.
“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride; your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”
The character giving voice to the prayer, Yule, is a young ex-evangelical who made his peace with his faith and is now leading a Last Supper of skeptics and agnostics.
Yule is not praying for the comet to pass them by. This is not the foxhole prayer of “Save me!”—it is the faithful prayer of asking God to support and change our own hearts. He asks God for grace and comfort that they may find courage and acceptance. In this, it is living deeply into the ancient tradition of prayer where the goal is not asking God to change our circumstances but seeking alignment of our own needs and desires with God’s will.
And it is obviously meant to be a prayer not just for the fictional moment in which the characters find themselves, but for our present moment. I could pray this every day. I may start praying this every day. It helps me look up—to God—and breaks my gaze on the struggles and crises of the present moment. I hope it helps you look up, too.