The Word That Is A Prayer

One thing you know when you say it:

all over the earth people are saying it with you;

a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,

a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.

What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:

at a street light, a man in a wool cap,

yarn unraveling across his face, knocks on the window;

he says, Please.

By the time you hear what he’s saying,

the light changes, the cab pulls away,

and you don’t go back, though you know

someone just prayed to you the way you pray.

Please: a word so short

it could get lost in the air

as it floats up to God like the feather it is,

knocking and knocking, and finally

falling back to earth as rain,

as pellets of ice, soaking a black branch,

collecting in drains, leaching into the ground,

and you walk in that weather every day.

     —Ellery Akers

The image of these simple and heartfelt pleases feathering upwards offers us an opportunity to contemplate and rejoice in our connection to people all over the world.  Brothers and sisters who might also be praying please don’t let my loved one die, please help me find a job, please help this vaccine keep me safe, or please help me not get evicted.

Anne Lamott reminds us that ”prayer begins as an honest conversation.  My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God…If you told me you had said to God, ‘It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,’ it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.  So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light.”

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