Note: This is a reprint of a post from my personal blog that I wrote in 2007. It is labeled private now, as most of my entries are, but I was in the middle of giving this prayer to someone today, and I realized I wanted to share it with folks here, too. And if God stuff is super irritating, my apologies, just ignore it, and know that atheists are my favorite. For real.
I called my ex-mother-in-law tonight who is one of the kindest women I’ve ever known and who I will always love for the rest of my life. And I told her how completely spent I felt, and she kept asking me, is your dream worth it? And I said, yes. Yes, it is worth it.
Then we talked for a long time, and I kept looking for the kicker, that’s what we call it in journalism, we call it “the kicker,” that clever little punchy thing that ends a story, that wraps it up and lends some meaning to it all. But the problem is my life feels so messy and so without a kicker right now that I wasn’t sure that I was going to find one from a phone call with her. But then it came. Kind of out nowhere, and with just the right amount of everything.
It was the ending. It was an ending I was looking for.
“Do you want me to read that prayer that you gave to me?” she asked, and I realized I had forgotten about the prayer completely.
I’ve given it to several people, anyone who might be going through a terrible time, and all with the caveat that I don’t know how I feel about religion, but I do try to find the beauty in what I can. And this is something that is filled with it.
I used to keep it tucked in my wallet but God knows where it is now. I first read it when I was moving from Chicago, staying with my smarter than most people I know 96-year-old great, great aunt who lives in Akron, Ohio, who giggles at what makes her happy, which is a lot, and whose eyes sparkle with intelligence.
One night when I was staying at Aunt Ruth’s, I found a note she left for her son, now passed away, resting inside a wicker basket and written in her neat, cursive handwriting.
“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cared for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations. – St. Francis de Sales. From your loving mother Ruth, 1993.”
I mentioned to Ruth that I thought it was a very beautiful prayer and while she is very smart and very quick she is still 96 and she smiled with intelligence and she said, “How does it go? Could you read it to me again?”
And I read it to her several times.
She didn’t remember it at first, and then she did.
When I drove from Ohio to Connecticut for the second part of my journey to New York, I came to spend the night at my ex-husband’s mom’s house. I mentioned to her the prayer.
She liked it and copied it down. She shared it with her father and her sister and her brother and other people in her family because we are all spent, we are all exhausted at times.
And tonight she found it resting on a windowsill in her kitchen -- written in her neat, cursive handwriting. She read it to me slowly.
I didn’t remember it at first.
And then I did.