Today, in high school chapel, our topic was prayer. In light of that discussion, I went home and wrote a prayer of my own. Though I’ve gone back and forth about the acceptability of publishing a prayer (Pharisee at the temple, anyone?), I tried re-writing parts to be about God rather than to God, and it all seemed suddenly rather inauthentic. Some guy published a prayer called the “Prayer of St. Francis” one time, and that seems to have turned out rather ok, so I’ll follow his lead. (Please don’t mistakenly attribute this to a saint.)**
You are good.
First, let me begin by saying “you are good,” because usually, I forget. In the morning,Ii’m far more concerned about fishing my eyeliner out of the side door of my Honda and, in the evening, I’m far more concerned about instantaneously falling asleep so I can cram in the largest possible amount of sleep before 7:17.
You are good. I’m not sure why it’s important to tell you. You know it. I know it. But I tell my dog she’s good just about as often as I tell you, and she spends a lot of time bashing her head against walls and licking her own butt. So that’s a shame.
You are the best thing that ever happened to me, and it’s your grace that I reach for in every shadow it casts as a beautiful line of Gerard Manly Hopkins, a student’s thoughtful note, a parent driving thirty miles to say hello, and “I may not be able to carry it for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you.”
You’ve always carried me. As much the “Footprints in the Sand” poem makes me want to scream into a bucket and simultaneously take a sledgehammer to all surviving cassette tapes of “The Christmas Shoes,” I know you’ve carried me since the moment I said “ok.” And I’m sorry when I try to scramble down from your arms, and I whine, and I flail around, head swinging and back arched like a toddler bent on self-destruction. Thank you for carrying me without blinking as you wipe my spit from off your face.
Thank you for chances to say “I’m sorry.”
Thank you for opportunities at church, for thirty semi-strangers arranged in an awkward, distant circle of metal folding chairs. Thank you for the celebration of matrimony and the celebration of singleness; thanks for the dedication of two people to one another and the dedication of one person to many. Thank you for grocery stores and coupons, for bok choy that will probably taste gross but is probably good for me. Thank you new, third-floor apartments with stuffy cat smells and greasy cabinets that won’t stay shut.
Lord, help me learn to ask for things that aren’t for me. Take my life and teach me to know what it means for your kingdom to be my priority.
Give me, this day, my daily bread. Give me love for downstairs neighbors that fill the stairwell with cigarettes. Help me to listen to them first, and talk second. Help me to read books they recommend. Help me let them move my TV. Help me invite them for tea. Give me courage to speak in dissent only when I am willing to confront. Give me words and timing with students who are much, much smarter than they’d care to commit to, and warmth and tenacity with students who find comprehension much, much harder than commitment. Give me enthusiasm for the third reading of Edgar Allen Poe, and dignity in doing as much grading as I can manage.
Bless this day, Lord. Bless this school. Bless this sidewalk. Bless this notebook. Bless this pen. Bless these students. Bless these colleagues. Bless this barista. Bless these friends. Bless this concrete stairwell. Bless this tiny bathroom. Bless this dinner. Bless these dang greasy cabinets.
In your name, Lord, Amen.
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.