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A Blessing, a Prayer, and a Plea for Another World
We all need faith right now – whether in ourselves or a higher power. Harvard Graduate School of Design student Emily Duma shares three poems that offer a blessing, a prayer and a brief respite from our broken world, with an introduction from U of U Health Chaplain Lorie Nielson.

In this moment

The blessing mudras are a dance of the hands offering gratitude within the parameters of physical distancing. 

Prayers of loving kindness echo the experience from areas significantly impacted by limited resources amidst great need. It is a reminder that the precautions we are currently implementing to conserve our resources, are for what might be, but is not now. 

Other worlds are possible, are unfolding, and transforming us as individuals and communities. Things have shattered and others are being created. Here the first wave of adjustments and preparations has given way to a holding pattern, a settling in with an undercurrent of anticipation. 

I am astonished with the rapid pace of structural and emotional flexibility that has occurred across the organization and the world. It is how we carry our loads and recreate, working with what is in the moment. 

For each moment we are practicing, but what is it we are practicing? 

          Life and death, like snow melting into the earth 
          The moisture creating mud
          With time grass and flowers grow

Rev. Lorie Nielson MA, BCC, University of Utah Palliative Care and Staff Chaplain

Blessing of the Hands in a Time of Pandemic

By Rev. Lindasusan V. Ulrich

Many hospital chaplains offer a “blessing of the hands” for those who work there. This ritual is intended to honor that blessing in a way that maintains safe distances. Invite those present to follow your hand gestures as you speak the blessing (hand gestures are described in the recording).

Bless these hands that hold the health of those who come through our doors.

hands together palms up
Hands together, palms up

Bless these hands that shelter and protect the vulnerable among us.

hands together palms down
Hands together, palms down

Bless these hands working to stop the spread of fear as well as illness.

palms out
Palms facing out

Bless these hands that mirror the love and compassion within each of your hearts.

palms towards self
Palms towards self

Bless these hands that shimmer with wonder at the way life flows through our bodies.

palms twinkle hands
Palms facing out and fingers “twinkling”

Bless these hands that connect with others, no matter what the distance.

hands with palms touching fingertips forward
Hands with palms touching, fingertips forward

Bless these hands, that you may stay safe as you labor on behalf of the entire community.

hands out at side palms up
Hands out at sides, palms up

A Prayer for Health Care Workers

By Rev. Florence Caplow

To those who care for us
When our bodies grow weak.
For those who use all their love and skill to keep the vulnerable alive another day.
For those working without enough protection this morning, without masks or gowns, re-using yesterday’s mask with a silent prayer that it still works, or using only a bandanna.
Who may be frightened of what is coming
Or who are already working around the clock
We send our deep love and gratitude.
May you be safe.
May you be well.
May your family be well.
May you be nurtured yourself by family and friends.
May you feel and know our wholehearted prayers and appreciation.
We send our blessings.

Another World Is Possible

By Rev. Ashley Horan

Another world is possible.
We say it, again and again,
even when the proof lies somewhere beyond the horizon,
beyond our reach,
beyond our imagination.
This is our faith:
Another world is possible.
Not somewhere else—
another world, another lifetime—but here, and now,
for us and for all.
Another world is possible. There is no single path toward that world;
no one strategy or approach that will restore balance, heal brokenness,
sow wholeness,
free creation.
There are many routes toward liberation;
toward freedom.
But the abundance of options does not absolve us of
the responsibility of acting.
Another world is possible.
The call—the duty— 
of each moment in history Is to discern:
Who are we, and what can we bring
with humility, integrity, faith?
What is the context, and how can we address it with agility, resilience, skill?
What is the vision, and how can we realize it with accountability, relationship, joy?
Another world is possible.
In this time of despair, of fear, of collapse—this time that is both like every other era and like no other time in history—  
It is audacious
to declare our faith
and to commit our work to a world that is
more free,
more just,
more whole.
But we are an audacious people in good company, with many kin, and we are ready to show up and work hard
and stay humble
and make friends
and hold the vision
starting here, now, today, with us and persevering—
however long it takes—until that other world is not only possible, but
Another world is here.

About: Emily Duma is a second year Master in Urban Planning student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Emily is a fierce advocate for cheese curds and believes in the radical possibilities of oft-overlooked cities to create progressive change. She has spent the last decade working as a facilitator, organizer and activist, fighting for the rights of parent leaders, developing national policy for economic justice, coordinating community-based grantmaking for social change, and working to redistribute land, wealth and power. She’s passionate about creating a just transition to a different economy, centering community organizing strategies in planning, and fitting as many houseplants as possible into her small bedroom.  


Lorie Nielson

BCC, Chaplain, Palliative Care, University of Utah Health

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