“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” is the title of a science fiction story from the award-winning author Harlan Ellison. It is also, I believe, how some feel about their relationship with God. In the face of all the world’s upheaval, devastation, angst, war and terror why does God seem so silent, especially in this turbulent year of 2016?
When reflecting on the biggest news stories of 2016 one can be hard pressed to assert that God was guiding the flow of events. Consider these highlights:
It would be easy to cynically sneer at the trauma in the world and declare that there is no God. But, do we really think God works this way; that he picks and chooses when to intervene in the world? Or - as I believe - has God already given us everything we need to thrive but we have chosen to ignore his guidance?
If we want to see God active in the world, we must first learn how God touches us in our own lives, day by day. God is not “out there” somewhere above the cosmos directing the world. He is as close to us as our heartbeat. We are tenderly and intimately linked with God through our soul; through the very essence of who we are. God whispers to us in the same way that he whispered to Elijah in the cave on the mountain top. The challenge is: we must learn to quiet our own desire and to listen to that still small voice of God within. And then, we must act. God is alive in our hearts and it is through us that the grace of God is spread throughout the world.
Following is a prayer written by Rabbi Jack Riemer which elegantly spells out the relationship between God and us. Given this way of looking at life, perhaps it is God who says: “I have no mouth and I must scream” as he watches us squander the gifts and grace we have received.
We Cannot Pray to You
By Rabbi Jack Riemer
“We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war;
For we know that You have made the world in a way
That man must find his own path to peace
Within himself and with his neighbor.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation;
For you have already given us the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice,
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all men
If we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease,
For you have already given us great minds with which
To search out cures and healing,
If we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination, and willpower,
To do instead of just to pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.
For Your sake and for ours, speedily and soon,
That our land and world may be safe,
And that our lives may be blessed.
May the words that we pray, and the deeds that we do
Be acceptable before You, O Lord,
Our Rock and Our Redeemer.”
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.