Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our coverage of the climate emergency, Covid-19, and rising authoritarianism have intensified over the last two years. But our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Please support independent media today.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Stacy Bannerman, foreground, second from right, a peace activist married to a National Guard soldier who fought in Iraq, has written about unusual relationship between warrior and anti-war activist in Washington, DC, on Saturday, May 13, 2006

Stacy Bannerman, foreground, second from right, a peace activist married to a National Guard soldier who fought in Iraq, has written about unusual relationship between warrior and anti-war activist in Washington, DC, on Saturday, May 13, 2006. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In 2020, Live Your Prayer

Stacy Bannerman

I quit going to church when my husband first went to the Iraq War in 2004. Then one day in the summer of 2017, I was walking around aimlessly and wandered into an old Episcopalian chapel in Medford, Oregon. I was mourning the death of my old life after my now ex-husband had self-medicated his severe combat trauma with crystal meth, costing my marriage, home, health care, job, and my identity, too, stolen by another crystal meth user.

The doors were wide open, but no one was there. I stood at the back of the nave, watching dust motes dance in the sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows. Then I saw the windows had words, and read these lines from the Song of Creation, and I wept. No longer for myself:

O ye Mountains and Hills, bless ye the Lord

O all ye Green Things upon the Earth, bless ye the Lord

O ye Seas and Floods, bless ye the Lord 

O ye Whales, and all that move in the Waters, bless ye the Lord

O all ye Fowls of the Air, bless ye the Lord

O all ye Beasts and Cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.

My life wasn’t about me, not anymore; it was about us, the global, ecological us and the preservation of every holy thing.

The Benedicite—an invocation of a blessing—on the behalf of sentient beings and the planet Herself was the switch that turned on the light.

You have a switch, too. Find it.

We are in one of the darkest periods this nation and the planet has ever seen. I’ve dealt with the dark forces of white supremacy and wars for oil and money. I’ve sat across the table from politicians so corrupt I could feel the malevolence rolling off them. That kind of evil cannot be converted; it can only be pushed back.  As Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

We need spiritual warriors willing to do the hard, heartbreaking work of becoming the light; capable of walking through the valley of the death of their old life and finding their way out. We need spiritual warriors brave enough to go into the dark because it’s easy to shine the light when you’re sitting in that section, but that is not where the light is needed. We need spiritual warriors with the clarity of thought, charity of heart, and purity of body required to keep that light radiant enough to help us see our way forward in the dark days and decades ahead. The Doomsday Clock is two minutes from midnight. We haven’t got a single second to wait.

Humanity must respond to the crushing selective pressure of the Anthropocene epoch with a real-time evolutionary adaptation in numbers, unlike anything the world has ever seen. That adaptation is an evolution of consciousness i.e. the emotional and spiritual intelligence that launches soulforce. Mahatma Gandhi called it satyagraha, the twin flames of courage and love. Soulforce is the energy behind every person who ever spoke truth to power, every person who has worked to advance justice with mercy. That force ─ and you can call it truthforce, loveforce, Godforce ─ is the most potent energy we have for changing the world. When it is actualized, soulforce allows us to make manifest the better angels of our nature even in the face of overwhelming loss. Even when it’s no longer certain the planet can be healed; especially then.

The preservation of what we love depends upon spiritual warriors who will stand toe-to-toe with world leaders, fossil-fueled billionaires, and architects of war, and tell them the truth. The protection of what we love hangs on the wings of spiritual warriors who can wield an arsenal of tools, tactics and techniques with surgical precision and leverage authentic power rather than brute domination. The battle for the basilica of creation will be won by spiritual warriors willing to do the work of forgiveness and pursue reconciliation rather than revenge. We need battalions of warriors – whole Light Brigades – who can call evil by its name and resurrect time after time from the terrible grief of preventable loss.

All deaths due to a lack of healthy food, clean water, or basic housing and healthcare are preventable in a country that calls itself civilized. All casualties of war, genocide, gun violence and global warming are avoidable.

Coping with climate grief and culturally induced trauma and depression is the way the spiritual warrior builds resilience, deepens their relationship with life, and connects with their intuition. Spiritual bypassing, which is the refusal to deal with the shadow or process the pain body, has allowed the Religious Right and New Age Left to do little more than send “Thoughts and prayers,” or “Love and light,” in the wake of yet another mass shooting, another Houston flood or Hurricane Katrina, or one more species lost to the Sixth Extinction. 

Saying “God’s will be done” after we made the mess gets us off the hook for cleaning it up. Posing with our hands in the prayer position while repeating the New Age mantra of “everything’s perfect” as the Amazon burns is a rather shallow understanding of the sacred. There’s no genuine devotional path that does not call upon the follower to serve humanity and the healing of the world. If we have a spiritual, moral, and humanitarian mandate to alleviate suffering, then surely, we are ordained not to inflict it.  So, grab your boots, grow your wings, live your prayer. The days of “I’ll do what I can” when it’s convenient or fun are done.

As the systems supporting life and livelihoods are collapsing, let us put ourselves to the task right now—right now—of restoring this World House by remembering we are our ancestor’s prayers, children of God, custodians of life. We hold the keys. Warrior, rise!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Stacy Bannerman

Stacy Bannerman

Stacy Bannerman is the author of Homefront 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars (2015), and When the War Came Home (2006). She was a charter board member of Military Families Speak Out, has testified before Congress three times, and spearheaded the passage of two bills. Her website is

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Iran Says US Must Lift 'Tyrannical and Illegal' Sanctions to Return to Nuclear Deal

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered the talks with a strong will and elaborate preparations in order to ensure the removal of unlawful and cruel sanctions."

Jake Johnson ·

2.5 Million Nurses Demand UN Probe Into 'Covid-19 Criminals' Blocking Patent Waiver

The European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, and Singapore "must be investigated for blocking a faster global vaccine rollout leading to the loss of countless lives."

Jake Johnson ·

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·

EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·

GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo