Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Iraqi Election Prayer (Buddhist Style)

My manager has forwarded me an email from a chaplain in Iraq. First, here is the email from the chaplain:

   As a transportation battalion, my unit will be delivering the voting machines and the ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq during the upcoming elections. (January 30/31) Our convoys are prime targets for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have the chance to vote; timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur. Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for the electoral process. Historically, the previous totalitarian regime would not allow individual citizens to vote. Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process fails.
   Announce this prayer request to your contacts throughout your churches, neighborhoods, and places of business. Those with leadership roles within the local church post this message in as many newsletters and bulletins as possible. There is unlimited potential for God's presence in this process but if we do not pray then our enemy will prevail (See Ephesians 6:10-17) A prayer vigil prior to the end of the month may be an innovative opportunity for those within your sphere of influence to pray. This is a political battle that needs spiritual intervention.
   A powerful story about God's intervention in the lives of David's mighty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23:8-33. David and his warriors were victorious because of God's intervention. We want to overcome those who would stand in the way of freedom. David's mighty men triumphed over incredible odds and stood their ground and were victorious over the enemies of Israel. (Iraqi insurgents' vs... God's praying people). They don't stand a chance. I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and move outside our installation gates here at Tallil. My soldiers are at the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them it is a historical mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots. No elections. Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to
give democracy a chance in this war torn country. Thank you for reading this E-mail. Please give this e-mail a wide dissemination. Thank you for your prayer support for me and my family. Stand firm in your battles.



CH (CPT) Lyle Shackelford

Battalion Chaplain

Now, here follows some of what my manager had to say about why he forwarded it. (The second paragraph was from a separate preface, from the first forwarding of the email.)

First let me say I apologize if this is not well received from anyone. I made the choice not to send this request out to everyone the other day, but after receiving many positive e-mails I have since decided to send it to all the folks that report me as well. This past couple weeks has been most difficult for Diane and I as well as my daughter Julie and my three grandchildren, Ellen 10, Sam 8 and Sophie 5. With the added tension of the Iraqi elections as well as some very terrible weather in Iraq things have only gotten more difficult for all. Sand storms and mud has make travel very difficult. My son-in-law Bob, whom I usually call my son, says its sometimes like driving on ice and snow. The Insurgents are doing all they can to prevent things from progressing with the elections. The net of it is very well spelled out below by the Chaplain. Diane and I do appreciate your prayers for Bob and believe prayer makes a difference. Sincerely, Brent and Di.

.....I usually do not send this type of thing along...But in this case I made an exception. My second SON Bob, is running convoys delivering ballots throughout Iraq. Your prayers for him as squad leader as well as all the others are appreciated by Diane and I. Sincerely, Brent

This is so important, please read, pray and pass to all that you know that will pray!

My manager, Brent, of course had no idea that I am a Buddhist of sorts when he sent this. The subject of religion has never come up between us in our meetings or conversations. This email has inspired me to compose a Buddhist prayer, or meditation if you prefer, of loving-kindness surrounding the Iraqi election.

May American military force members in Iraq be free from suffering and want
May they go about their duties free from violence
May they return from their duties safely
And to their beloved
And may they achieve ultimate enlightenment
I extend my loving-kindness to the American military in Iraq

May the peoples of Iraq be free from suffering and want
May they go about their elections in peace
May they achieve a safe and stable society
In which they may care for their beloved
And may they achieve ultimate enlightenment
I extend my loving-kindness to the peoples of Iraq

May the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq be free from suffering and want
May they take up peaceful ways
May they return to lives free from violence
And to their beloved
And may they achieve ultimate enlightenment
I extend my loving kindness to the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq

One aspect of Brent's email that strikes me is its assumption that might be "not well received." How anybody could respond negatively to a heartfelt request for spiritual support is beyond me. I have made many great friends from widely divergent religious backgrounds over my short lifespan, and learned that the desire for spiritual progress exists in most people, even if latently. The ways we go about it may be quite different, and the Weltanschauungen can be seemingly irreconcilable. But if we allow ourselves to recognize sincerity in others who have very different approaches to matters of ultimate concern, there is no limit to the enlightenment that we can all share.