Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Prayer For You

I am sad. I don't want to say why. In fact, I am pretty much afraid to say anything today. Sometimes, people take it upon themselves to to help bloggers out by, um, voicing their opinions in the comments of a particular post. Even worse, when a post gets shared on one of the bigger sharing sites, it can get attacked by the anonymous trolls who seem to thrive under the dank and rotting logs strewn across the fetid underbelly of the web itself. I hate them. That is the reason I will probably never be published on one of the megasites that republish blog posts and memes and all of that, without, I might add, compensating - and often not even giving credit to - the creator of the content.

This is also why, to be honest, I will never have more than a couple hundred followers and such a low volume of "hits" on this page.

Do I care? Not after this week, not after seeing a man I respect weep in frustration because something important he wrote was attacked. I've seen it a number of times. It's ugly. I can't tell you the details, because it would embroil me in the very fire of hatred I am so trying to avoid.

I came as close to closing this thing down as I have ever come this week. I mentioned it and then Jack - beautiful, irreverent, sacred, kind, prolific, tender, insane Jack - said this to me: "Please don't quit, part of how we hold down the fort is by being here and writing our stories. And we are all part of this community, if you quit because you feel like you have said all you have to say that is one thing, but not because of this."

Thanks, Jack.

I've mentioned in the past that I pray a lot. I guess this could certainly seem pious. I get that. It could also imply that I am a hopeless sinner. Yeah, I am. I could come across as holier-than-thou. I ain't. Do I pray so I can tell you that I pray? Maybe, a little.

Listen, I pray because the alternative sucks. You may think the alternative is not-praying, but, that's not so. The opposite of prayer to God - a god, the god, the gods, Her, Him, Them - the opposite of that is prayer to self. That don't work. Trust me. I am not my ultimate power; I am not my supreme being.

Henri Nouwen wrote: To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. All our actions must have their origin in prayer. Praying is not an isolated activity; it takes place in the midst of all the things and affairs that keep us active. In prayer a "self-centred monologue" becomes a "God-centred dialogue.

For a long while, a couple of years I'd guess, I carried a St. Joseph medallion loose in my pocket. I mention it again because every time I touch that medal, I remember what it is, I remember who St. Joseph is, I remember he and I are both fathers, I remember we both have sons and, in so doing, I say a prayer of thanks to him and a prayer of blessing on my sons, through the son he raised. In an instant, in real time. Now.

I wear that medallion around my neck now, its tarnished oval seems dull as it nestles against the shiny new silver cross I have on an endless chain around my ever vulnerable neck. I don’t touch it so much anymore, talisman-like, no... but the two - the silver cross and the pewter medal - ring together with a satisfying, beguiling, haunting note that holds for longer than expected. When I hear it I think of Zuzu, I think of angels, I think of my angel, your angel, I think of love, joy, kindness... hope, and, in so doing, I say a prayer of thanksgiving as pure and honest as any psalm or hymn. In an instant.

Just now. As in it just happened. I get up to go look out the window and it rings and then... and then, I stick my hand in my pocket and my finger gets tangled in a leather string which attaches to a wooden cross with a name on it, some one for whom I promised myself I would pray daily throughout Lent. And, each and every time I feel that warm rugged hand-hewn cross in my pocket or see it on my dresser or notice it when I look for my phone, I will.

The other day I was praying briefly in the morning, on my knees at the small home altar we have in the guest room - a simple candle, some holy water, a children's bible, and two hand-painted chalices, crafted by the sacred cherubs who bless our home. One of these angels walked in on me, which, embarrassingly, I don't like, and stood quietly, which is rare for Nick. I knew he was there - one senses cherubs - and I pulled my hands away from my face, which is how I pray to limit distraction, and smiled at him. He asked me what I was doing.

"Prayin'," I answered.

He took and long beat and looked into my soul, which was laid bare to him.

"Good," he said directly, with authority, with grace... prayerfully, in retrospect, and turned and walked quietly out of the room, which is rare for Nick.

In all fairness, I should tell you who I am praying for when I fumble across the wooden touchstone in my pocket. Yes, it is a specific person, a person I love deeply, so deeply I will pray always for them and it is you, and you... and you.


I promise.

From Marci's "...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat..."

A three-year-old Nick after getting ice cream:  "What flavor is God?"

Well, that's gonna add another year to divinity school...

Thanks for coming around and listening.  I feel better, back on track, like I feel after I pray.  Wait, was this a... naw, or, maybe?

" All our actions must have their origin in prayer."



  1. AWESOME truly I had goosebumps while reading this. And though our friend was attacked by some fools hiding behind a computer screen they will never be half the men any of the guys in our community are. Us who bare ourselves to the world. truly great read my friend and thanks for praying for us !

    1. Thanks, Raymond. I wanted to rant, and scream and spit. Something stopped me. I am very glad you could stop by.

  2. Hi Bill,

    I am honored you mentioned me here. I used to spend far too much of my time being angry about how things were. I didn't expect life to be fair or reasonable about most things but I thought it could be for somethings and that if it wasn't, well my indignation and loud voice could change it.

    Can't say for certain how many things changed because I waded into the fray but I got tired of being angry and stopped trying to lead from the front.

    I found that when I moved back into the middle and asked for help more people responded. The beauty of age is perspective and recognizing that though you may be built to last and stronger than most you haven't nearly the same strength as a group.

    So when you lock arms with the person next to you and agree to work together good things come from it.

    As for prayer, well I have been an atheist and a believer and an agnostic. Now I am a Jewish kid from LA who thinks about his time in Jerusalem and knows that my kids didn't just materialize from my will.

    Anyway, you have steel in your back and strength in your bones that is apparent to all of us.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    1. Glad to hear from you, Jack. A book I read recently really helped focus my thinking on things. I don't recommend it often because, frankly, some men aren't ready for it. It is "Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life" by Richard Rohr. It's a bit Cathlocentric, but, it really helped me focus on my spiritual journey. Thanks for coming by, and thanks for inspiring me.

  3. I was attacked last month. I was not pretty, and I was subject to it over and over in the form of over 600 emails and hatred spew all over my older posts.

    I too, almost quit. But that person was not what my place is about, no more than a cranky customer on my mail route in real life who takes it all out on me because they don't want overdue notice for the mortgage. I wouldn't quit my job over that person, and I wouldn't quit over some crazy anonymous person.

    Prayer is always good, regardless of the reason, or the person.


    1. I saw that Juli, exactly what I am talking about. I am glad you stopped by today and, yes, prayer is always good.

  4. Bill, thanks for posting this. Your writing is beautiful and from the bottom of my heart I want to say thanks for praying for me, and the other guy, and everyone else. And also, thanks for not quitting!

    1. Your prayer for me, Beau, are the tender images and words you offer to your children. Thank you for coming around and commenting here, it means a lot to me.

  5. I can't lie, there have been times in my life when I prayed to one. Times when I prayed to myself. Times when I damned all prayers for what I perceived as false hope and a net that just wouldn't catch me. I don't know where those prayers go. Is there a giant inbox in the sky, are my prayers just spam? Maybe when I'm older I'll be more comfortable with the idea or maybe I'll grow more and more cynical. I pray it is the former.

    As for your voice and your prayer, I love you for it. Even when one questions the destination of a prayer, it is impossible to doubt the author of one. I found myself down several times this week, way down. Considered closing up shop my damn self. Words I wrote were not my best and I found that intentions matter little when the masses translate our hieroglyphs. I learned a few things about humanity, some of them scared me. Some of them warmed my heart in the most delightful ways. In the end, whether my voice is popular or not I think I will continue to say what I feel I need to say. Sometimes I'll be right, sometimes wrong, but I will be me. I'm glad you're here and I pray you will be next time I visit this corner.

    1. Eric, thanks for stopping by and offering up a few words here. I was thinking of you and so many others as I wrote this. My heart just broke at the way your words were distorted and twisted. And yes, yes, there is a "giant inbox in the sky" and no, no your prayers are not spam. Peace on you, Eric.

  6. Bill:
    Your heart and your life and your words bring me closer to wanting to pray and think about God than I have been in a very, very long time. I'm not sure if I like that or not, but I know... well, I don't really know what I know. Just wish we could hang out some time, is all. But I'll settle for the internet, which does seem to have redeeming value from time-to-time. :)

    1. I know your journey has not been without pain, Brent. I also know that your devotion to your family and friends is of paramount importance to you, perhaps that is your prayer. Thanks for hanging here for a while today, I appreciate it. Someday we'll meet and have that beer.

  7. There is sincerity in your post and words that comes through so clearly each and every time I read your words.
    As a person of faith, I am always appreciative when someone keeps me in mind during prayer. So, I thank you.

    1. Larry, peace to you. I am glad to know such good and decent people stop by to see me. As a man of faith, you know the words are seldom my own. Thanks for your words and positivity, I need them.

  8. Bill,

    My arm is a little sore tonight from three straight days of tossing the ball with the kids thanks to our recent blossom of spring air here in Ohio. They had a great time with dad - and dad had a great time with them. But it is by reading your story tonight that I am certain that a real lasting memory was made. In the next 10, 15 or 20 years - Nick (and Zach) will be looking for their "place in the world". Then he may get lost in the world. Then he may be look for a bearing - a focal point - a familiar point of reference. Then one day he will remember - remember when he caught dad prayin'. What a great gift from a father to a son.

    Thanks for sharing my friend.

    1. Thanks for walking the trail with me, Dustin. Your words are kind and your soul is rich, I know that, I see that. My very best to you and your beautiful family.