March 18, 2022
An invocation. Recently I was asked to give an invocation at a webinar offering resources and support for people working on the opiate addiction pandemic. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to participate and to serve.
So, as requested, I gave the invocation, at the end of the meeting. The end? That is when the organizers scheduled it. So, usually an invocation is at the beginning of something, an event, a gathering, a service. It is a recognition of ‘invoking’ the presence of God. Since we don’t control God, however we may conceive of God, I think of an invocation as recognizing the sacred/spiritual as part of the event or gathering. Setting a context that affirms the wider spiritual forces at work in the the people and effort at hand.
But I was asked to do the invocation at the end of this presentation. Well, I did not quibble about the terminology – at the end is usually a benediction. I was just glad that they wanted to include a spiritual/religious element to what was being done. Maybe the planners are not church goers or part of a faith community. Maybe they don’t really have any history or experience with an invocation in another kind of setting. Again, the issue at hand is eliminating the devastation of the opioid crisis not what you call the closing prayer.
In preparing for this invocation I thought about those who might be part of the webinar. Social service personnel working with people with addictions. Medical workers serving opioid addicts. Others in law enforcement and other social service fields who regularly interact with people that have become victims of drug addiction. People working in mental, behavioral, and physical healthcare. Often in very demanding jobs with little support for low salaries. It is easy to become discouraged by the lack of societal support for addiction education and treatment. And there is the heartbreak of having clients and patients that regularly overdose and die. It’s a difficult area to work in yet so important; so needed. It can be hard to maintain hope in the face of ravaged lives, relationships, and families. It is demoralizing to think about the greed that leaves such devastation in its wake.
An invocation at the end of the meeting. As I thought about it, I decided that is exactly what was needed. Those people needed an affirmation of spiritual support as they left the lunch time webinar to go back to work. They needed to be assured of the presence of Divine Love/God/Spirit supporting them as they went on with their day actually working with the people who are in the throes of addiction and its many consequences. They needed to know they were not alone in their efforts to create a society that provides the many kinds of support needed to confront the opioid crisis, addiction, and mental health issues, and healthcare in general.
Yes, an invocation at the end was what was needed. Invoking God to be present in the work that lay ahead. So, I gave a prayer, offering spiritual support to these brave souls providing resources, relationships, and societal support to those enmeshed in addiction.
What challenges are you facing? Is there something in the day ahead that will be difficult for you? Is there an important relationship in your life that is under strain right now? Does grief dog your days? Are there challenges related to parenting or employment or finances or aging or addiction that weigh upon you? Try an invocation to get you through. Acknowledge the presence and power of Divine Love that is with you. Affirm the Divine image at your core and in the lives of those around you. Breathe into that reality. And trust love. Amen.