Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: War

Sometimes…I cannot pray | George MacDonald

The news from Ukraine and neighboring countries is more than grim. No matter who ‘wins’ this obscene standoff, too many have already lost. How, then, am I to pray?

Today I read this sonnet from George MacDonald. His life was full of unwanted tragedy, death, pain, and strife.

Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray–
For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife.
Yet some poor half-fledged prayer-bird from the nest
May fall, flit, fly, perch–crouch in the bowery breast
Of the large, nation-healing tree of life;–
Moveless there sit through all the burning day,
And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay.

From George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul, p. 13
© Augsburg Publishing House (1975) and Augsburg Fortress (1994)

It seems not knowing how to pray isn’t the end of the world. Perhaps it means we’re in touch with reality. And what then?

I hear George MacDonald, whose life was filled with strife, pain, anger and doubt, suggesting it’s OK. I don’t have to know what to say. In fact, not knowing what to say might be the most honest way to approach strife such as he endured, and many are enduring right now in Ukraine and beyond.

In the middle of seeming chaos, do I have the courage of the half-fledged prayer-bird to “sit through the burning day”? Waiting, watching, staying close to the “large, nation-healing tree of life” until this little bird brings a “fresh leaf” to cool my troubled heart?

May our Creator have mercy on us all.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 March 2022
Photo of young fledgling found at

Today’s nightmare

Recent news from Ukraine is beyond grim. The post below is from September 2017. It’s about a dream, and my sense of being trapped when Trump became POTUS. Now we have Putin against Ukraine and most of the world.


This morning I woke up feeling strangely empty and weeping. Partly because of a near-nightmare and partly because we’re living, it seems, in a near-nightmare.

In the dream, I’m alone in a small room, just getting ready to exit. I’ve decided this small room isn’t going to work for me. Suddenly a man I don’t know and have never seen before walks into the room. He isn’t impressive in stature or looks, yet I know in my gut that he’s potentially bad news. He immediately flops down on the single bed near the door.

As I walk toward the door to exit, he reaches out and grabs my hand. His face clouds over with contempt and a sneer. I know I’m done for if I don’t take charge. I feel small and defenseless. Caught in a nightmare not of my making. I feel his grip tightening on my hand.

I wake up not knowing what to say or do next.

The man’s eyes, the sneer on his face, and the totally invasive nature of his presence and behavior communicated his firm belief that I was totally irrelevant. In his eyes my life mattered not a whit.

It’s sometimes difficult these days, especially since I’m on the older end of the age spectrum, to maintain a sense of relevance. But this was bigger than that. It was about the invader’s power and willingness to exercise it no matter who I might have been. Though I’ll admit it didn’t help to be female.

This tired old world is in a season of growing visible and present chaos. The kind this world has seen before, though not with so many growing warehouses of nuclear arms and an over-supply of trigger-happy leaders ready to prove their supposed virility. Ordinary people seem to have become irrelevant. Except as props on a political stage.

I don’t fixate on this every day. Nonetheless, it’s always in the air begging for my addictive attention. If I remain fixated, I’m a goner, dead or alive.

Instead of playing along with the ‘dream’ man’s agenda for me, I relax, ignore his eyes and disgusting speech, and pray out loud and in a strong voice these challenging words from Mary Oliver’s poem, “Six Recognitions of the Lord.”

Oh feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
The fragrance of the fields and the
Freshness of the oceans which you have
Made, and help me to hear and to hold
In all dearness those exacting and wonderful
Words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
Follow me.

Mary Oliver, Thirst, stanza 5 from “Six Recognitions of the Lord”
Beacon Press 2006

Praying we’ll find courage to identify our True North and follow it, one day at a time.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 March 2022
Caught in a near nightmare was published on 27 September 2017
Photo found at



inauspicious death
haunts her widow soul
her mother heart

children don’t die
before their mothers Read the rest of this entry »

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge | Day 3

Russian women and children in undergrnd bomb shelter, 1942

Russian women and children in underground bomb shelter, 1942

Women will always fear war more than men because they are mothers.
A woman will always have a baby, her own or her children’s in her arms.
She will always be tormented by fear for her children,
the fear that one day she might be a witness to their own deaths.
Natalya Baranskaya, Russian Writer

It’s easy to think that in the USA we don’t have a long history of overt warfare. We do, however, have a history of covert warfare that is traumatic for those living with it daily on the streets, at home, in prisons, or in places of employment.

I recently began  following Fiction & Development, a blog that uses fictional literary works to discover and highlight international development issues. I’ve linked to their recent review of selected literary works about women and children during times of war.

The reviewer points out that protection of women and children has often been used as a propaganda tool to persuade citizens to support war efforts. To this I would add, to persuade citizens to vote for this or that politician. Look at the box of quotes (not fictional) at the end of the review to see how world leaders have done this in recent years.

What woman or child doesn’t want safety? How does one vote against propaganda that assumes wartime creates lack of safety for women and children, or that going to war will make things safer for ‘our’ women and children? Put another way, how does one vote for the reality that all women and children are vulnerable at any time, and that the rhetoric of war denies this truth?

* * *

Thanks to my blogging friend Herminia for inviting me to take part in this challenge! If you don’t know her already, check out her blog. Herminia is a go-getter. She doesn’t waste time or words. Every post is short and to the point.

Here are the rules for this challenge:

  1. Post one quote a day for 3 days (your quote or someone else’s)
  2. Thank and create a link to the blogger who nominated you
  3. Nominate 3 other bloggers (per post) to take part in the challenge

Here are my last three nominees:

  1. You! Are you still sitting on the fence, wavering? Just do it!
  2. Mum C Writes
  3. Verseherder

No Rush and No Obligation ~ You don’t have to report in to anyone!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 Sept 2015
Photo credit: Arkady Shaikhet, 1942, found at

She remembers me

She remembers me
From long ago
A stranger, yet a friend
She says she was there
The day the war ended.
I don’t remember her. Read the rest of this entry »

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