Ed. Note: This prayer was written by Rev. Richard Deats, who joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, in 1953 and served on FOR-USA’s national staff between 1972 to 2005. Throughout those 33 years Richard lived in Nyack, New York, and worked in FOR-USA’s longtime Nyack headquarters, known as “Shadowcliff.” (FOR-USA maintained its headquarters at Shadowcliff, a 1927 mansion, from 1956 to 2018. In 2014, the structure was added to the New York State Register of Historic Places and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.) This prayer was written and shared with staff colleagues in March 1977. Richard Deats died in April 2021 at age 89.

O Divine Spirit, I am grateful for the opportunity to work at Shadowcliff, in beautiful surroundings next to the Hudson River, daily reminders of the beauty, power and mystery of a world ever renewing itself.

I am grateful for the FOR and its worldwide work for peace, with members scattered across every continent pledged to work for justice and peace, goodwill and understanding. Across the boundaries of nation and race, religion and class, I am strengthened in knowing that this work has gone on for eight decades, seeking to build what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the beloved community.”

Forgive me, forgive me, for our failings. Strengthen us where we are weak, widen our vision, deepen our courage. Sharpen our sensitivity to suffering, injustice and hurt.

Help me to see my work, like each job here, an essential part of the task we have been given. Help me to do my job well, to always strive for excellence. Help me to be sensitive to the needs of my colleagues and whatever burdens, problems and concerns they have. Help me to be a good listener, to stand for the right, to be a real friend and ally.

Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.