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The Rev. Benjamin Pratt The Rev. Benjamin Pratt
Dr. Pratt is a retired United Methodist pastor and pastoral counselor. He was the founding pastor of a congregation that remains, after 48 years, one of the most racially integrated of the Virginia Annual Conference. Then, for thirty years he was a pastoral counselor on Capitol Hill and in the City of Fairfax.

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Peacemakers' Prayer: Angel in the Dump

January 16, 2013


Any home gardener knows that an unseasonable warm snap in January will wreak havoc on perennials and spring bulbs. So, I put "Mulch the Beds" on my To Do list and drove to the dump, the best source of fresh mulch in our area. It's also, in mid January, a green-and-brown monument to the Christmas just past. I am not Catholic, nor was my grandmother, although she always insisted that she once saw the Virgin Mary appear at the foot of her bed. So, I must have a special spiritual eye for glimpses of ...
Well, here is a poem I wrote when I returned home after a remarkable, grace-filled moment in that vast dump site.

Like children,
Snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses
Need protection from
January warmth that betrays
A bitter cold to come.
Day after warm day, the sun seduces their
Green tendrils to grow taller.

A trip to the dump for mulch to blanket
naïve thrivers reaps a surprise.
Christmas trees that recently displayed the
Joyous lights celebrating the Nativity
Now are piled like matchsticks awaiting the grinder.
They have no memory of the joy they pretended
Nor the innocence they invoked.

A bright color imbedded in crushed branches lured me to one tree.
Tucked amidst still-fragrant boughs-
Green paper cone scotch-taped for body,
Red rough-cut wings,
White circle for a face-
A handcrafted angel.

And deeper I peered, the crayon words:
Angle Mary protekt us from guns.

A child's prayer discarded with this tree.
Maybe by mistake?
Snagged in the branches as they went.
Now, an Angel in the Dump,
A plea for all the innocents
Whom we discard from our memories,
From our prayers
So quickly.

I replaced the boughs around her.
Tucked her in.

Echoed the prayer:
Protekt us all from guns.


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