Spiritual Directors International

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Prayers for a Peaceful Transition

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

My prayers for Nelson Mandela, his family, and the South African nation are changing. My mind knows that to hold onto Mandela with prayers for healing needs to shift to praying for a peaceful transition. My heart feels the painful anticipatory grief.

Simultaneously we are invited to hold hope and grief. While celebrating a global prophet alive in our midst, I feel the sadness that his wisdom will not always be available for us to glean in person.

When I visited the prison cell on Robben Island where Mandela lived for almost twenty years, I tried to imagine the depth of his faith. I wondered if he sometimes knelt down on his straw mat or cement floor and what his prayers sounded like in that tiny cell. He must embody extraordinary trust in God’s goodness.

May God’s abiding spirit be experienced by Mandela now.

In the photograph above, Mandela is speaking outside his prison window. You see a gentle giant; a poised prophet. Imagine the spiritual integration required of Mandela to stand in the prison yard as a free man, to speak for justice and freedom, to forgive, and to inspire the next generation of leaders in Africa and around the world.

As spiritual companions, we are called to create safe places where spiritual integration and prophetic voices may be heard and reassured. Sometimes we offer encouragement in person, one-to-one, or in a group. Sometimes God invites us to offer our gifts of spiritual accompaniment on a bus, in the workplace, or on a park bench.

Today, we are invited as spiritual companions to extend the reach of our prayer and contemplative practices to Pretoria, South Africa, where Mandela lies gravely ill in a hospital bed. May our spiritual companionship touch the heart of Mandela and his family. Mandela has set an enduring example for how trustworthy God is. Mandela knows the peace beyond understanding. May our prayers join with millions of other prayers for a peaceful transition.

How has Nelson Mandela touched your heart?

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