A prayer of loss and blessing, from Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, Director of Pauline Cooperators in the US and a native of New Orleans.
Canticle of New Orleans
By Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp
Waters of the earth, bless your Maker.
be kind to the people who need you to quench their thirst.
Hold back your raging destruction of flood and overflowing banks.
Be kind to the city that sings about you in legend,
that travels over you to unknown places.
Unite people - do not disperse them.
Waters of the earth, bless the Lord!
Winds of sky, bless your Maker.
Keep cool breezes flowing over the people of God.
Keep away disease and danger by your healing movement.
Hold back your anger in storm and destructive power in tornado.
Be kind to the city that knows when you caress the land
and keep the heat from overtaking the plants and livestock.
Remind people of God's care.
Winds of the sky, bless the Lord!
City of humanity, bless your Maker.
Keep your people safe who have built you.
Allow them to write music, sing, play and dance
in praise of God-given life.
Keep those in leadership from misusing what is gifted
by the unity of men and women, children and family.
Be kind to the City that brings happiness to so many.
Be kind to her history that tells the human story.
May the city be a city on a hill that shines God's light.
May your music, dance, and food be a foretaste
of the eternal banquet.
City of humanity, bless the Lord!
People of God, bless your Maker.
Keep hope in your hearts in time of distress.
Give hope to those around you
and know that you are loved
by those who worry about you
in your distress.
Reach out to those who are near.
Reach from afar in times of trouble –
reach in prayer if you can't reach physically.
Let us ask forgiveness when our response to trouble
seems slow and unthoughtful.
Open your hearts to those who are vulnerable.
People of God, bless the Lord!
People of New Orleans, bless your Maker.
Know that you are loved.
Know that the rain, wind and water that bless the city
and surround it as a hug outside of times like this
will return to their banks and sky.
Your hope is our hope. May we share what we have
with you as you share your faith with us.
We reach you in prayer even as we long to reach
you with a helping hand and pluck you from distress.
We share in your distress and hold in our hearts
your pain and sorrow. May God renew you!
People of New Orleans, bless the Lord!
“This poem came from the depths of my own struggle with the tragedy in New Orleans my home city. I too am still looking for lost family friends, friends from Chapelle Highschool (our 30th anniversary was going to be celebrated this September 10th at the Yacht Club), and people with whom I worked in ministry.
“Our history as a people has created a culture of blessing. Music that wafted in our streets was made from the stuff of deep joy and overbearing sorrow. In our joy we bless, in our tears we bless, in our loss we bless. In our lives we now hope to bless one another.
“My parents lost their house of 30 years last year in Hurricane Ivan. They lost the family Bible, and heirlooms handed on to them that they would have handed on to grandchildren, friends and neighbors. The large six-foot statue of the Sacred Heart in our house, left to our family by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in New Orleans, was smashed. But there in the rubble was the heart from that statue. There was the sign of hope that God's love does not abandon us. Their life now centers on people who have suffered more than they have, the people in nursing homes, those who are abandoned and homeless, those without hope. And this faith that has been passed on to me was nourished by the people of New Orleans. The heart that is now enshrined in my parents’ temporary home is a sign that ‘Deep waters cannot quench love’ (Sg 8:7). This is the heart that now beats inside of all of us for those who are suffering from Hurricane Katrina.”
Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP, is a native of New Orleans and a Daughter of St. Paul. She can be reached at Kerrysso@aol.com. Website: www.pauline.org; BLOG: www.transformingtheworld.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2005, Daughters of St. Paul. Reprinted with permission.
Permission is granted for the free reproduction of the Canticle of New Orleans in newspapers, magazines, bulletins, websites, or in photocopied format, provided that the entire Canticle and the author byline and credit is printed with the Canticle.