Litany of Purpose

“Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!” – Luke 18:5 (NIV)

Finally, the widow broke the judge down. She shook her finger and her face at him and on him just enough to finally prevail. She was a pest. If you have ever been pestered, you know her. She has no boundaries. She doesn’t know when to stop. She is like a virus, infecting all within reach. She is powerful. She needs a flyswatter or a vaccine or a test or all three.

The widow, above all, was focused.

One of the things the pandemic has taught us is focus. Or, more accurately, what it is to not be able to focus. It’s common to hear people talking about how they lost focus and hope to find it on the way back in.

What is focus? It is concentration that isn’t interrupted by your missing cell phone or something even less trivial. It is the purity of heart that wills one thing. The widow had a lot of that. Focus is behavior that has mission centrality and mission consistency. You know what you are supposed to do. You have the capacity to do it. You know you did what you were supposed to do when you go to bed at night. You rest well because you know you did what you were supposed to do.

How to find purpose in times like these? Especially since we don’t know the name of the times, or what the old name for the old times really was, or what the new name for the new times will really be.

What story will we tell about ourselves during the pandemic?

“I was fine.”
“I survived.”
“I coped.”


“I called myself beloved, and the earth called my name back to me.”

Focus us, O God, on what really matters. Let the rest go by. Amen.

EmergeAbout the Author
Donna Schaper contributed this liturgy (edited for devotional format) to Emerge: Blessings and Rituals for Unsheltering, a down-to-earth resource to bless the complexities of pandemic living. Order Emerge here.