We’ve been talking about prayer in Wellspring, asking people to write their own prayers and to think about what prayer has meant to them in the past and what it means now. As a lifelong Unitarian, getting comfortable with the practice of prayer has taken me a long time, since it was never part of my upbringing. My first prayers started with gratitude, which felt simplest. “I am grateful for sunshine on this beautiful fall day. I am grateful for the love that surrounds me.” No need to identify to whom or to what one is praying. It’s easy to acknowledge feeling grateful because so much has been given to me.
But then my prayers started to get deeper and to expand beyond my quiet time in the morning. I find myself thanking God for so many things – for clean fresh water, when so many have none. For the abundance of food, for the quiet and peace in my life, for all the blessings that I receive. And in a more recent development, after talking with my spiritual director, I have started to pray for help. God, help me to be loving and mindful. Help me to know the right path. Help me to know how to be of help to someone else. Asking for help is hard. It means admitting that I’m not perfect, that I don’t have all the answers, that I can’t do it –whatever it is – alone. But it feels good, at the same time, to acknowledge that I do need help, to let go of the illusion that I have to be independent and isolated and self-sufficient. We need one another, and there is grace in knowing that.
Last weekend I went to visit my youngest granddaughter. At twenty-one months, she’s exploding with amazing new language skills and bursting with energy. “I running” seems to be her favorite state of being, so we take her to the park unless it’s absolutely pouring rain. She ran, of course, from the playground to the tennis court, her mom and I following. As we approached the tennis court, I noticed chalk writing all over it. My initial thought was that at least she can’t read yet because it was graffiti, possibly obscene. But as we got closer, I saw that someone had written along the sideline and again near the net, “God be with us in our life. God be with us in our life.” What a simple prayer, written boldly among the tic tac toe games and childish drawings of animals, “God be with us in our life.” May it be so, and amen.