Praying Primer

Start at an early age. 
As you walk into Sunday School,
pray for Mrs. Williams to bring chocolate chip cookies 
and make sure to give God a back- up plan. 
Pray for brownies too. 
Hope is growing. 
So are you.

Practice gratitude.
As you sit in the sanctuary later, 
tasting brownie crumbs, 
listening to the minister’s baritone 
bounce off sun drenched windows,
mix in the lazy warmth of your father’s shoulder
as you lean and fall asleep,
unaware that he will be gone soon.
This is fertile ground. 

Write thank you notes. 
Thank God for the sunshine
and rain and flowers growing. 
Slowly catch on that God is never 
bringing your beagle back, 
that dead is dead on a lone mountain road
with fur and tangle in the ditch. 
And gone is gone. 
And God is listening.

Listen hard. 
Strike any pose, head up, head down, 
fingers entwined or digging in. 
Listen to the rain pat the sanctuary windows 
While the pipe organ begins a slow prelude
and your sister sobs softly beside you. 
Flowers cover your father’s coffin like snow. 
And God is inside us all. 
This is hard. It gets harder. 
You are learning to pray.


Richmond, Virginia USA.