LL Cool J, you had me at “pray.”
Opening the Grammy awards on Sunday, host LL Cool J began with the obvious and noted passing of Whitney Houston the day before, saying, “There’s been a death in the family.” Then he invited the audience to pray for Houston and her family, starting with the words, “Heavenly Father…”
The camera panned the audience; most heads were bowed. The prayer was unabashed, something that you would hear at a wake or a memorial service. And make no mistake; it was prayer. This was not Godless prose, or a whitewashed acknowledgement of our oneness with the universe. This was gospel prayer, from the heart and from the soul.
Whatever those bowed heads in the Staples Center were thinking during this time, I’d bet many of them were praying along, happy that in this moment of unexpected loss and profound grief — “there but for the grace of God go I” — there was something simple and basic on which to lean: a prayer.
“Yay, God; go prayer,” I thought to myself — for no other reason that in a culture trying to shed itself of public prayer and association with God, here was a moment when the most profound instinct was to pray. In times when our hearts are broken, we need the visceral language of God.
It was a fitting tribute to Houston, whose first — and perhaps, best — gig was singing in a church in Newark, New Jersey.
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