It is not as if this last week was encouraging. Many more died – including security forces in an alleged jihadist ambush and Brotherhood prisoners in an alleged escape attempt. But by comparison to the week before, it felt as if things were calming down.
If so, it wasn’t subtle. A state of emergency has been declared. Curfew begins at 7pm. Much of the Brotherhood leadership is in prison. But consequently, demonstrations in support of the deposed president have dwindled.
Or, perhaps the country is ready to move on, and the Brotherhood senses its defeat.
God, surely Egypt is not in a good place right now, but calm, at least, is a relative good. Justice and reconciliation are better; may they come soon and transparently.
Heal the psyche of the nation, God. This past week has left a deep scar among so many. Islamists suffer hundreds of fallen. Christians endure dozens of burned churches. Citizens across the country witness Egypt tearing apart, and many have yielded to the polarization.
God, in this period of calm, however brief or long, give Egyptians time to reflect. How did the nation get here? What went wrong? Where is my personal share?
In their reflection, God, help the Brotherhood to confess and seek forgiveness for any and all sins. Give them a spirit of deep questioning. Encourage a review among remaining leaders and youthful cadres. And to whatever level righteousness remains, help them to hold to it tenaciously.
In their reflection, God, help the revolutionaries to take stock of their country. If their ideals outpaced their possibilities, give them wisdom to see their errors, even as they champion their successes. But help them to favor principles over power, especially as power appears unavailable. Good principles will transform a nation over time, so may they not lose their focus.
In their reflection, God, help the people not to lose heart. Security is easier than freedom; apathy easier than commitment. Most people are not activists, nor is it asked of them. But they are citizens; may they not surrender to anything less.
God, engaged in enforcement, perhaps the government cannot reflect. But as they impose their will on events, may they do so humbly. May they not spoil the favor and patience the people currently lend them. But may they move quickly to provide security, economy, and political agency in return. May all benefit.
But a calm enforced is not calm at all. May it give space for reflection, and not remove it as a pressure cooker. Save Egypt from any coming worse.
Calm is not peace. God, may the two not be confused.