March 24th kicked off the 17th annual observance of “Farmworker Awareness Week” focusing on farmworker lives (March 24-31). It is also the middle of Holy week bringing an end to the reflective season of Lent and moving us toward the Christian celebration of Easter. As farm worker supporters, we recognize the important place that faith played in the life of Cesar Chavez and in our organization as well.
The sponsors of Farmworker Awareness Week, Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) are providing daily blog accounts (https://www.saf-unite.org/content/2016-messages) of student experiences with their placements working with farmworkers in the southeast. Each day will highlight a different aspect of farmworker lives, a reflection shared through the eyes of a young person. I invite you to make these your daily reading as we move into and through Farmworker Awareness Week and arrive on the other side of Easter!
Here are two prayers you might choose to use during Farmworker Awareness Week 2016:
For the miracle at the core of Creation, we give thanks.
For the amazement we feel whenever we see the beginning of life in the birth of a baby, at the budding of trees, at the blooming of flowers, at the greening of mountains, at the shimmer of sun on lakes and streams, at the drifting of sand on brown, desert land, at the wafting of clouds on the light blue sky, we celebrate new life and the changes of life.
For seasons that begin and end in the planting and harvesting of our fruits and vegetables, we raise voices in praise.
For the farm workers we know labor to bring good food to our tables and economic blessings to the farms on which they labor, we give you our sincere gratitude.
For the injustice these hardworking people must endure, the difficult circumstances under which they labor, and the lack of opportunity to speak without fear to their own situation, we offer righteous indignation.
May the Creator of the sky, the sea, the land and all that dwell upon this earth hear the cry of the farm workers, the cry of the poor, the cry of those of us who stand WITH them in solidarity.
As we remember Cesar Chavez on the anniversary of his birth, we thank you for his life, his sacrifice, his inspiration to the farm worker movement. May it continue to motivate us to work for justice for farm workers.
In the name of the One who is love. Amen.
Hear this plea for justice, O Holy One of Heaven.
See the farm workers scattered about the field, rushing to work quickly at pruning or planting or harvesting or clearing out.
Smell their toil and tears, the dirt and the stench of the pesticides that plague them.
Taste the soil and the plants that are infused with fertilizer and nutrients to make them grow beyond their normal capacity.
Feel the texture of the land and the wetness of the water to hydrate it.
Hear the plight of your people in the fields O Great Sower of seeds, Pruner of vines, Harvester of justice. Listen to their voices cry out for relief, cry out for opportunity, cry out for respect. And answer, we pray.
Give us courage to stand with farm workers in their quest for self-determination.
Give us the audacity to proclaim to those in powerful places like business and politics and law enforcement that we must listen to farm workers.
Give us boldness to speak to our friends and our families and our faith communities that farm workers deserve better.
Give us strength to outlast a society that forgets, a culture that is being fed fear, a civilization that is forgetting its own humanity.
Hear our prayer this day and every day as we pray in the Spirit of Love and Justice and Peace. Amen.