I wrote this prayer to frame a class on Non-Violent Physical Crisis Intervention required for staff at the hospital where I am a chaplain intern this summer. Its purpose was to bring a trauma-informed understanding of our efforts. Feel free to use this prayer or an adaptation of it in any setting where you are learning about personal safety and self-defense. Of course, be sure to give the author proper attribution.
This morning our sacred task is safety. The safety of patients, the safety of staff, our own safety. It is an unusual thing to name the art of self-defense a sacred effort, but let us bring such intention to our efforts this morning, let us bring such intention to each other this morning.
We are called this morning to learn skills that bring us not into verbal contact with those who are upset and not into tender contact with those who are agitated; instead, we learn a firm and insistent contact whose intention is to bring greater peace and well-being when they are unable to do it themselves.
We offer our bodies, holy and whole, not as sacrifice, not for damage, not to danger or exploitation, but in aspiration of teaching and learning, to generate more peace, to grow non-aggression, with our goal of bringing suffering to a close. Should we hurt someone in our learning, may we seek forgiveness. Should we be hurt by someone in our learning, may we offer forgiveness.
Let us recognize that in seeking our own safety, the safety of our colleagues, and the safety of the one who is seeking to do harm, we, ourselves, may be experienced as doing harm – let us ask for humility in the face of this paradox.
Let us recognize that too often, those who seek to do harm, have experienced harm themselves, and generate more violence. Let us recognize that too often, those who seek to bring peace, have experienced harm themselves, still healing, willing to risk memories and pain in generating more compassion in this world.
Let us step into our pastoral power that pairs compassion with release holds; pairs kindness with alert attention to escape routes; radical concern with learning the concrete skills that minimize damage that can be done.
There is no separation. We are all a part of that Great Inter-being, known by many names. Let us use this knowledge we are learning and skills we are practicing not distance us, but bring us closer to our fellow human beings and our Sacred Source.