A Prayer Beyond Walls

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O God,

When our great-great grandparents were living,

Their children were taken away.

When our great-grandparents were breathing,

Their children were taken from their homes.

When our grandparents had their being,

The children were taken.

When our parents walked,

Some of them did not know who they were,

For they were among those who had been taken.


We, whose bones were across borders,

Wept, and You were witness.


They told us, “We will take your children,

We will take your future. We will take your blood.

We will kill the brown in them. We will make them

Look like us, but not be equal to us.”

This is the price we paid for crying for justice.


O God, you were a witness.

To their tears, and our cries.


Millions were lost, stolen from their homes.

We did not know until we saw the empty blankets.

We were powerless, for we had no voice.

There was the sound of crying, but no ears to hear.


O God, you were a witness. 

When the children were taken, they took the children of God.


And now, after this also,

They have taken the children of others.

Ninos in Dios. The children of God.

God’s babies. The ones who toddle toward God.


We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

But we remember our old songs, and our faith.

We come to stand before You. We are witnesses for our brothers and sisters.

We come to stand: Our men, women, and our children.

And our eyes are upon You. 

O God, you are a witness. These are your people.

We cannot touch these children to whom we are related by ancient bones.

We cannot comfort their mothers, or strengthen their fathers.


Take this singing, O God, in a circle around us.

Take these prayers like smoke in the wind.

Take it through walls where children are kept. 

Take it through barbed wire and metal fence.

Take it across borders to those who cry for justice.

Take it to ears that refuse to hear, but can be opened.

Let this prayer and singing be as a blanket this moment.


Make these prayers and singing like a whirlwind, O God.

Make our tears as courage, and our standing as a testimony.

We who have survived are witnesses that there is no border,

To justice when God is wounded. 

You will not leave your children nameless,

Or your infants in captivity. 


We are witnesses, O God, to the powerful,

That You alone are power.

We are witnesses, O God,

That you are a witness.



Ray Buckley, a Native American of Lakota/Tilingit/Scottish descent, is a United Methodist author, illustrator, storyteller and poet living in the Alaska Conference.

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Native American scholar Henrietta Mann (left) and leaders of The United Methodist Church’s Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, the Revs. Donna Pewo (center) and David Wilson, conduct a prayer ceremony for immigrant children held at the Casa Padre detention facility in Brownsville, Texas. The three prayed in a grassy median outside the facility, a former Walmart. It is the largest shelter in the U.S. for minors caught crossing the border illegally. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

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