I was not overly concerned as I watched it transpire. It appeared similar to other situations I had witnessed. Yet based on the reaction of those who were right there, it quickly became clear this was anything but a regular occurrence. There was shock and concern from everyone in the vicinity – a population who characteristically manifested the antithesis of those emotions. Bitter rivals who moments before were literally in each others’ faces, were now taking a knee, embracing each other and offering prayers.
Damar Hamlin’s sudden collapse during Monday night’s NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals was a frightening, life threatening event. It was also an incredible moment of clarity.
Gone were the gladiators battling on the ball field. Gone were their fans cheering at the top of their lungs for their favorite team. They were replaced with a sea of humanity that was united in one single hope, one prayer, that Damar was going to be okay. It was an incredible moment of clarity.
When ESPN went to their analysts, Suzy Kolber, Adam Schefter and Booger McFarland, Kolber articulated what everyone was feeling, “The game is not important now…Life is important.” And McFarland, who played in the NFL, offered, “All I know what to do right now is pray for the young man, pray for his family.” The following day, ESPN football analyst and former football player Dan Orlovsky surprised many when he responded, “I heard the Buffalo Bills organization say that we believe in prayer, and maybe this is not the right thing to do, but it’s just on my heart and I want to pray for Damar Hamlin right now. I’m going to do it out loud, I’m going to close my eyes and bow my head, and I’m just going to pray for him.” It was an incredible moment of clarity.
There are times in our lives, some quite tragic, others rather benign, that provide us with an incredible moment of clarity. Amidst all our aspirations or anxieties, our brashness or brokenness, our celebrations or crises, something breaks in and our entire view of what’s really important changes. A vision from the balcony that provides a re-prioritization of that which is truly important. A place that calls us to prayer as the most powerful and necessary response.
“It is only in prayer that we can communicate with one another at the deepest level of our being. Behind all words and gestures, behind all thoughts and feelings, there is an inner centre of prayer where we can meet one another in the presence of God.” Bede Griffiths
“I am no miracle worker, but I believe my prayers make a difference, if only because they come from a humble heart, so I turn that heart outward, I let it beat in time with each of you, and I pray the rhythm of God begin: health from illness, peace from war, love from loss, abundance from scarcity, compassion from indifference, vision from blindness, comfort from pain, hope from despair, wisdom from ignorance, humility from arrogance, justice from accusation, unity from division, kindness from cruelty, life from death. I call out the good with every beat of my heart. I call out blessing. With every beat of my heart I pray the rhythm of God.”
– Steven Charleston