With eyes toward the Pope, what does your heart want for Philadelphia?

What is your prayer for the city of Philadelphia? What is your heart’s “ask”?

WHYY is linking the arrival of the pope with the sound of Philadelphia — not in the musical sense, but rather the yearnings we all have for this city. We’re harvesting the deeply felt wishes of Philadelphians to hold up as prayer alongside Francis’ visit.

Here’s my prayer, from a seat in the Christ Church North Garden watching the birds:

The sparrows bathe in the dustFriction cleanses wingsMay we learn in grit then fly.

Prayer is interesting. Many of us use the word freely, but I, for one, find it elusive and highly variable — which I hope is a good thing. Literally it means to ask, or to entreat. In many religious traditions, such as Buddhism or Shinto, it’s not understood the same way it is in, for example, Christianity or Judaism. And in a city like Philly, which is still predominantly Christian — and Roman Catholic — folks sometimes forget that prayer can mean many things. And everyone can offer up prayer.

Are you spiritual but not religious? Good for you. Part of a different faith tradition? Terrific. Are you from any one of several traditions within atheism? Great. Everyone is needed in the dialogue. And no matter how you slice it, I’ll bet you find inspiration and teaching in all kinds of people in the world.

While many of us may not be Roman Catholic — as a female priest, I guess I’m out — Pope Francis has moved many of us with words and actions that lean far more toward the genuinely human, toward the affirming and connecting end of the spectrum, than the divisive and judgmental end of things. He’s a major world leader of a hugely significant spiritual tradition. And Francis’ arrival, however annoying it may be logistically, has possibly touched something deeper inside of you at some moment along the way.

Send us your prayer

Here are some suggestions:

Make it brief, a couple of sentences at most. That will help you come closer to the core of what you feel.

Make it personal. Want to pray for the Phillies? Please do. Want better schools for your child? Have at it. Want to know who it was who hurt — or, given other Philly statistics, killed — a child? That’s a prayer.

Pair it with an image, if you like — a pic you shot on your phone or camera.  

Email prayersforthecity@whyy.org, or tweet your prayer @NewsWorksWHYY using the hashtag #prayersforthecity.

And when you send it, let your heart hope. Not hope for — just hope.

Then watch NewsWorks on Facebook and Twitter daily for the harvest of prayers for Philadelphia’s future. And as we’re wrestling with the sci-fi-worthy logistics of the papal visit, maybe our hearts’ ask and hope will help ground us all in something bigger. And then, maybe, experience something bigger.

Let’s see.

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