Storming The Gates of Heaven in Oakland

heavensgateThose of a particular generation may be more familiar than others with the term, “Storming the gates of heaven.” It is a term used to describe intense, incessant prayer.

While some may object to the imagery of protesters outside the gates of heaven waving signs, more poetic souls understand the limitations of language when discussing human spirituality: those who storm the gates of heaven go with empty hands and full hearts.

Storming the gates of heaven is the only way to describe recent events in the Oakland community. A prayer service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oakland drew hundreds of people to pray for a child stricken with brain cancer; a Facebook page has attracted hundreds more. There are two children in the town of Oakland in serious condition due to brain cancers, and their plights have many residents storming the gates of heaven in their homes and houses of worship.

Prayer, usually the subject of debate as to where and when it should be allowed in public, is a powerful element in popular art form. The storyline in It’s a Wonderful Life is instigated by the numerous prayers which lead to George Bailey being visited by Clarence the angel. J.D. Salinger, famous for Catcher in the Rye, wrote another novel around the Jesus Prayer where in the end the character Franny finds holiness in everyday acts of kindness.

Jim Morrison, singer for The Doors, was famous for his line, “You cannot petition The Lord with Prayer!”. It’s a great line for a rebellious teenage spirit, but a poor interpretation of Philippians 4:6 where the word supplication often replaces petition - “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

More recently, many people have become familiar with Leonard Cohen’s composition of Hallelujah from it’s appearance in soundtracks ranging from the movie Shrek to various television shows. It combines elements of longing, acceptance, and undoubtedly praise and thanksgiving.

People storm the gates of heaven not certain of God’s will, but boldly confident in God.

2 Responses for “Storming The Gates of Heaven in Oakland”

  1. Rob Rightmire says:

    Sean and family, Cancer is a terrible enemy but not unbeatable. With advances in understanding about how cancer cells develop, we have a much better chance of beating cancer. I will pray for Chris’s strength to get through the day to day boredom of this affliction. It’s not always a condition with lots of activity or with time to appreciate the lighter moments. It is a constant reminder of something lurking in the background, ready to step up and ruin everything in what has been an otehrwise happy and fulfilling life. Inside Chris’s heart is a strength you can’t believe. I his mind there is wisdom beyond his years and in his smile there is hope beyond understanding. I pray for those to lift his spirit and to keep him focussed on the good ending that is just as likely at this point than the alternative. But, if this becomes terminal, then I pray for Chris’s strength to carry him through these difficult days, the medication enough to keep him comfortable and the loving arms waiting to greet him and take him into eternal peace. May you all receive comfort in the knowledge that Chris is not sick because of anything he did wrong. He is young and otherwise healthy, so he has a good chance of persevering through the worst of this. Sometimes the cancer is stronger than the body it invades, so we must learn to accept what may happen while fighting with all our strength to stop the enemy within his body. I am here to talk, having gone through a cancer struggle of my own and more recent heart problems.

  2. maggie says:

    Well said!!!

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