In every age, O God, you have been our refuge. (Psalm 90:1)
On Tuesday of this week, we prayed this psalm as our response to the first reading at Mass. It immediately brought to mind the hymn “In Every Age” composed by Janet Sullivan Whitaker. And now, two days later, news of more volcanic eruptions in Guatemala.
Today, one of my Facebook friends shared a post about remembering and praying for the people of Guatemala, asking how we could stand in solidarity with them. I sometimes comment on friends’ posts, but rarely share the posts themselves. However, today I felt compelled both to comment and to share the post.
Here’s what I posted in response to the question:
- Pray, of course.
- Try to connect with people you might know in Guatemala, by phone or by email.
- Send a donation to Catholic Relief Services online (www.crs.org)
- Search for stories on the follow-up recovery efforts in Guatemala.
And I would like to add one more,
- Purchase goods made in Guatemala from a fair-trade association. Groups, like SERRV (www.serrv.org), buy products before they are made so that artisans have the resources to acquire the materials they need.
I had the privilege of spending a week in Guatemala in 2011, where I worked with a group of educators who were proposing a new university for Guatemala. We worked together on designing a new curriculum and planning for the upgrading of professional skills of the teaching staff. It was one of the most satisfying professional experiences for me, and a personally rewarding connection with people who remain good friends.
I sent an email to my friends in Guatemala, and I’m beginning to hear from them. I was able to send a contribution online to Catholic Relief Services, and have ordered 8 bags of coffee grown in Guatemala from SERRV. I have several beautiful artifacts from Guatemala, but today the only product available from SERRV was coffee. There is a fair-trade shop in Sarasota, which I know has textiles and baskets from Guatemala. I plan to stop by in the next couple days.
Let me close with Psalm 90 as composed by Janet Sullivan Whitaker (1999).
Long before the mountains came to be
and the land and sea and stars of the night,
through the endless seasons of all time,
you have always been,
you will always be.
In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our refuge.
In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our hope.
Destiny is cast, and at your silent word
we return to dust and scatter to the wind.
A thousand years are like a single moment gone,
as the light that fades
at the end of day.
Teach us to make use of the time we have.
Teach us to be patient even as we wait.
Teach us to embrace our ev’ry joy and pain.
To sleep peacefully,
and to rise up strong.
You have been our refuge
You have been our hope.