Being brought up Catholic I was taught many things. One of those things was prayer.
Catholicism was the beginning of my faith. Many times in my life I have clung to the prayers I was taught to memorize – they helped me get through dark and troubled times when I could not find words of my own to pray.
I have had a long circuitous spiritual journey, examining many faiths, and in my 67th year, after losing my mother and my sister last year, I find myself extremely contemplative about life, my faith and our journey here on earth.
I find myself really exploring my belief system. I think about how it has morphed from a dedicated belief to something different.
We are never the person as we started out because time and experiences effect the way we look at things anew. We are different, yet the same.
My Mother loved books; she loved beautiful quotes and profound thoughts. She introduced me to the Desiderata – she found the Desiderata in beautiful poster form and had one framed in an ornate silver antique frame and gifted one to each of her children.
She said that was her legacy to us.
As I revisit the words and meditate on the meaning of the Desiderata this Lenten Season, I strive to incorporate every line Max Ehrmann wrote into the very core of my being. Those are words to truly live by.
If you have never read the Desiderata before, I invite you to search it out and read it.
In searching out the Desiderata again for myself, I came across another poem written by Max Ehrmann called “The Prayer.” I had never heard it before.
That prayer spoke to me from the depths of my soul and Ehrmann’s words feel like they are my own.
As I find myself standing at various crossroads of my life, I want to pick up the phone and share things with my Mother, and seek her wise counsel.
My mother would tell me what I needed to hear without “sugar-coating” it. I didn’t always like what she told me, but the last years of her life I held on to almost every bit of advice she gave me as if it belonged in a treasure chest. It did belong there – her words live on in my mind.
Today, I decided that I could hear my mother again, her voice and her words by reading the books, poems and quotes she so loved.
Below is “A Prayer,” also by Max Ehrmann.
What I BELIEVE is she somehow led me to it.
I drink in the words and their meaning and add a line to the end of the prayer for you, who was kind enough to enter my world of thought, of only for a moment. It is bolded at the end of the poem.
by Max Ehrmann
Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself. Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself. Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope. And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still.
And may this prayer permeate your soul and bless you.