Past Time

Here’s something you might not know about me:  There was a time when I could debate scripture with the best of them.  I went to Catholic school for eight years, back when there were actual nuns, tough old biddies who would cut you off at the knees as soon as look at you if you gave them one ounce of lip.  So it was religion class what seems now like every day, or at least every other day, alternated with science.  It was mass every First Friday, as well as every holy day, every Sunday, and any time the nuns felt it was in our best interest.   And even after I graduated, it was CCD for confirmation, mass on Sundays and holy days right through my first year of college.

So I get the whole prayer thing.  I prayed hard and often.  I prayed for my family, I prayed for the world, I prayed for whatever special petitions we had at church.  I prayed I would pass my math test, I prayed that special boy would notice me, I prayed I would learn how to diagram a darn sentence before I had to lose another week of recess, staying in under the eagle eye of Sister Mary Rose, working on compound predicates at the black board.

I’m sure the nuns prayed too, prayed long and hard after a particularly challenging day with us.  But here’s the thing — they didn’t just pray.  They put their backs into it, each and every one, molding and shaping and very occasionally whacking our souls into shape.  It must have been exhausting work, and I loved them for it.

But it was exhausting being molded, too.  I would have loved, before one of those recess sessions, to have gone up to Sister Mary Rose and said “I prayed I would learn how to diagram this sentence, Lord! So we’re good now, right?”  and then skipped outside to be with my friends. But I knew without even trying what would have happened.  She would have pulled me back by my ponytail, sat my bony butt in the chair, and made me do the work.  So I prayed to myself, and then stayed in for what seemed like a month until I finally got it right.

The nuns knew what we’ve forgotten:  We’re not just supposed to pray.  We’re supposed to get off our butts and do the work.  I’m heartsick at seeing ‘prayers’ posted on social media yet again in the wake of a mass shooting.   Prayers aren’t doing it, people.  We can pray all we want, but prayers won’t bring back the fifty people who died yesterday, won’t do them one bit of good.  Won’t help the 32 in Virginia, the 27 in Sandy Hook, the countless others who are shot every day.  Won’t help the ones who will be shot tomorrow, or the day after that.

What WILL change things is doing the work.  The work of electing candidates who believe in gun reform, who will stand up to powerful lobbyists and say no civilian needs a weapon that can slaughter 50 people in the space of a song.  Period.

Prayer can be good.  But not by itself.   It’s past time.  Let’s get to work.

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Liz Michalski


  1. Vaughn Roycroft on June 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm


  2. Marilynn on June 13, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Well said. The power of prayer is no good without doing the work to support it.

  3. vpchandler on June 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Very good! And when we pray for someone to change things, maybe we’re the ones who are supposed to bring about the change.

  4. amybisson on June 13, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Exactly Liz! I think Ben Franklin said “God helps those who help themselves”.

  5. Just me on June 14, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Oh boy – here we go. Assuming you’re referring to the Orlando tragedy, that man never should have been allowed to purchase a weapon. He was under suspicion already and IMHO the FBI botched this one up pretty good. Please remember that terrorist acts like these don’t require an AR, either. Tim Mcveigh used fertilizer in the Oklahoma city bombing. Are we going to ban that, too? On 911 they used airplanes. Boston Marathon was a shrapnel bomb. It is more than just an AR. And don’t forget if there weren’t folks in those places WITH guns to take out the bad guys, there would be even more deaths.

    As far as a candidate who will stand up to lobbyists, I assume you are not referring to Killary. Just follow the Clinton Foundation money…

    Prayers and common sense, please. That’s all.

    • liz on June 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

      With over 800 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, it is only common sense that we ban military grade weapons. There is no reason for any civilian to be able to buy one. Both England and Australia changed their gun laws after mass shootings and as a result mass shootings have almost disappeared. We need to do the same.

  6. Rick Wilcox on June 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

    The hard work ahead requires a holistic approach. I agree that we are overdue for gun reform, but that only addresses exterior constraints. Our pulpits should also be doing the hard work of calling each of us to accountability. That surgery of interiors is much harder and where only God can make a material difference.

  7. liz on June 14, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Agreed, Rick.

  8. Jan O'Hara on June 14, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    A minister in a church I used to attend likened prayer without action, to singing Wishin’ and Hopin’ while never deciding to ask the boy out.

    I’m sorry for what your country is going through. We had 10 difficult years here where I felt like an alien in my own land. The good news is that those 10 years caused people to reexamine what was important to them, and I think we made a healthier choice this last election. (As one example, the majority of voters specifically repudiated dog-whistle politics.) In time, perhaps these dark days will serve as a catalyst for good.

    • liz on June 14, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      I hope that’s true … that we can come out the other side better and stronger. We need some hope right now.

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