A Childhood Prayer

September 11, 2016

Maybe it’s because of my age. Maybe it’s because of the complexity of my life. Maybe it’s because I’m more God-centered than I was forty or fifty years ago. Maybe it’s because I value the simplicity of old age. But a childhood prayer has kept rumbling around in my mind these last couple of days, not supplanting the prayers I usually say, but reminding me of the ones I said every night when I was a child:

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray to God my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take.

Maybe it’s just a question of distilling my complex life down to its simplest form and disposing of all the unimportant things that usually occupy one’s life. Maybe it’s just a question of looking at where we’ve come from and where we’re going, and measuring out our lives in teaspoonsful instead of endless gallonsful, and maybe it’s just a question of concentrating on the importance of fulfilling one’s destiny and making a difference in this world, leaving it better than we found it, but I find my childhood prayer very comforting.

It’s comforting in a way it wasn’t comforting when I was a child. In those years, I said the prayer by rote and ended this prayer with blessing all the members of my family, also by rote.

Over the years, as I grew closer to my family and realized how lucky I was to have been born into this family and how much I appreciated the close-knit ties we shared, I prayed differently. My words came from my heart, not my head and every night and several times during most days, I continually thanked God for these many blessings I was lucky enough to receive.

Whenever I hear of the trials and tribulations of other people, it saddens me and it reinforces my gratitude for all I have been given. I hold it close to my heart, like the most prized secret and I cling to it like the gift it is.

I know I can’t cure all the world’s problems nor fix all the problems of the people I meet, but I try to share the part of myself that is accessible to those in need of love and support.

I’m in the process of learning how to distinguish between those who really need it and those who just want to take whatever they can get without lifting a finger to help themselves. It’s been a difficult lesson to learn, this separation of the takers who keep taking with no concern with how much they’ve taken, and with the people who take only what they need and work hard to use the life lessons they have learned. However, little by little, I am learning this lesson well enough so that I don’t have to keep repeating it over and over again, and little by little, I am learning to dispose of the people in my life who don’t have my best interests at heart but want everything they can get with nary a thought how they get it.

It’s a lesson worth learning. Everyone should listen to their intuition and to recognize the red flags they see and to heed their messages.


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