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Hello from Rivendell.

You may know that J.R.R.Tolkien described Rivendell
as a perfect place for story-telling and thinking.
Those words have influenced
what I will try to include here.

Each week, hopefully, you will find two items.

In “Sunday Reflection”
there will be a Prayer and a Reflection to think about
based on the Prayers and Scripture Readings for that Sunday.

On Wednesdays
there will be something a little different.
Over the years I have come across all sorts of writings
by many different people.
Not all of them have been by people who believed in God,
but all have believed in people.
The things about which they have thought and written
remind me of what Abraham Lincoln once said:
“I have always plucked a thistle and planted a flower
where I thought a flower would grow.”

It is quite possible that amongst all that appears
under the title of “Wednesday Thought”
some will find thistles and some will find flowers.
I hope that in most of the writings
you will find more flowers than thistles.

What all sorts of people have said can be of help to us,
and if we reflect on them,
they might influence for good,
the way we are,
and what we think, and say, and do.

If you know of anyone
who might find something here that is helpful,
please let them know of my website address.

 

May you have a happy time reflecting.

Barry

If you would like
to make a comment or contact me,
but without using the comment facility,
and so making sure that
I’m the only one who can read it,
please email me on:
rivendellsfoodforthought@gmail.com

Wednesday Thought for November 20, 2019

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In making up the character of God,
the old theologians failed to mention that
God is of infinite cheerfulness.
The omission has caused the world much tribulation.
Michael Monahan

I always think that the best way to know God
is to love many things.
Vincent Van Gogh

It is a mistake to suppose that God is only,
or even chiefly,
concerned with religion.
William Temple

Sunday Reflection for November 17, 2019

A Prayer and Reflection for November 17, 2019,
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prayer

God of all people,
we believe that your plans for us
are not for fear and disaster,
but for peace and happiness.

May all that we do help to make our world,
the world that you want it to be.

May our attitudes and decisions in life
be those of your Son, Jesus.

Instead of being critical of the past
may we be constructive and caring in the present.

Instead of destructive selfishness
may we seek love and service.

Reflection

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Joyce Kilmer wrote this poem.
It was also sung by Paul Robeson.

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.
A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that may in Summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair.
Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.

Friday, November 22 this year
is a very important date.
It is the start of National Tree Planting Week.
At some schools children are being encouraged
to bring £1 to help plant a tree
in a reforestation project.
It is possible that you may have heard about this initiative
called Just One Tree. (Website: http://www.justonetree.life)

But it is not only about planting trees,
it’s also about people.
This is because trees
bring nutrients back into the soil
enabling farmers to grow crops once more;
trees help to replenish water tables,
they revive natural habitat for endangered species,
and help tackle climate change.

This may not seem very important to us
who live in this lovely part of Sussex.
However, we now know that for many people
all over the world
their lives are being threatened
by the effects of changes in our climate.

David Attenborough said that
The future looks alarming indeed,
but it’s not without hope.
There is still time,
if we act now with determination and urgency.

And one of the ways we can act
is all about trees.

They are a major part of what can help
to save the lives of people.
Scientists have confirmed that planting trees
is the most effective solution
to the climate crisis.
You probably know that trees absorb the pollutants
we humans put into the atmosphere.
They clean the air we breathe,
filter the water we drink,
prevent soil erosion and flooding,
give life to the world’s wildlife,
house complex ecosystems,
supply us with medicine,
and provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people.

Helping to plant a tree
is one way of answering the question
“What can I do
to help the poor people of the world,
and to care for the world of nature?”

When we look at the trees
and see how beautiful they are,
and when we walk among them
they can help us to feel happy and at peace,
and glad to be alive.

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You may remember this poem by A E Housman:
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
is hung with bloom along the bough,
and stands about the woodland ride
wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
twenty will not come again,
and take from seventy springs a score,
it only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
fifty springs are little room,
about the woodlands I will go
to see the cherry hung with snow.

So as we give thanks for trees
and consider how much we should value them,
may we give thanks
not only for those who look after them today
but also for those who planted them years ago.

Many who did so
knew that they would grow
and be enjoyed by many people,
even though they would not live to see this.

They planted trees and looked after them
for the benefit of others.

May we do the same.

Wednesday Thought for November 13, 2019

 

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In the quiet hours
when we are alone with ourselves,
and there is nobody to tell us
what fine fellows we are,
we come sometimes upon a weak moment
in which we wonder
not how much money we are earning,
nor how famous we are becoming,
but what good we are doing.
A.A.Milne

On the whole,
human beings want to be good,
but not too good,
and not quite all the time.
George Orwell

Anyone who proposes to do good
must not expect people
to roll stones out of their way,
but must accept their lot calmly
even if they roll a few more upon it.
Albert Schweitzer

The pity of it is that generally
the man with a good wife,
or the woman with a good husband,
or the children with good parents,
discover too late the goodness they overlooked
while it was in full bloom.
James Douglas

Sunday Reflection for November 10, 2019

A Prayer and Reflection for November 10, 2019,
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prayer

God of all people,
you want us to experience
the presence of Jesus with us,
as our companion in life here on earth.

May he bring us peace
in the tensions and troubles of our lives,
may he bring us joy when we suffer,
and may he bring us life and happiness when we die.

We pray that we will always be aware
that your Son, Jesus, is with us
especially when life makes us weary
and we are in need of help
to strengthen our faith and hope.

May you fill each of our days
with deeds of goodness and wisdom.

May Jesus be the lamp
that shines brightly in our lives;
may we always hear his voice crying out to us
in our needy brothers and sisters.

Reflection

On Remembrance Sunday we sometimes hear about
the story of the Unknown Warrior.

The Reverend David Railton, a chaplain at the front,
is believed to have had the idea of honouring
the unidentified dead of the Great War.
In 1916
he noticed a grave in a garden in Armentieres
which had a rough cross bearing the words:
“An Unknown British Soldier.”
After the War, in 1920,
he suggested that
Britain honour its unknown war dead officially.

Between 4 and 6 bodies were exhumed
from the main British battle areas in France.
They were covered with a Union Jack
and left overnight in a chapel at Saint Pol.
Brigadier-General L. J. Wyatt,
who was the commander of British troops
in France and Flanders
then selected one.
Placed in a coffin made of oak from Hampton Court,
the body was transported to Dover
on the destroyer HMS Verdun.

On the morning of November 11,
the 2nd anniversary of Armistice Day,
the Unknown Warrior was drawn on a gun carriage
in a procession to the Cenotaph
where King George V placed a wreath on the coffin.

At 11.00am
the nation observed the Two Minute Silence,
and then the body was taken to Westminster Abbey
and buried at the west end of the nave.
The grave contains soil from France,
and is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble.
Inscribed upon the marble are these words from the Bible:
“They buried him among the Kings
because he had done good toward God
and toward his house.”
(2 Chronicles 24:16)

Within the 1st week,
1,250,000 people filed past the Unknown Warrior
to pay their respects
to all the unidentified war dead.

It is now
one of the most visited war graves in the world,
and is the only part of the Abbey floor
that is never walked on.

God, of all people, we thank you today
for all those people all over the world,
who since time began have been examples of courage.

We remember all those whose words and actions
have inspired those who came after them.

We thank you today
for those who have had the courage
to stand up for their convictions, come what may;
to fight against evil and injustice,
even at the cost of their own lives;
to live out their faith and share it with others
even in the face of bitter opposition.

Especially on this day we thank you
for those who displayed such courage
in all the horror of war,
those who fought so bravely,
who served so faithfully,
and who sacrificed so greatly
for the cause of freedom.

We give thanks for all that we now enjoy
because they were willing to die.

We stand in awe of their courage,
and we acknowledge again the debt we owe them.

Today we remember and pray
that the lessons of the past may not be forgotten
or their sacrifices wasted.

May we put into action
the words of Edmund Burke, who said:
“The true way to mourn the dead,
is to take care of the living who belong to them.”

May our small acts of thanksgiving
for their great acts of sacrifice
make sure that we never forget them.

Wednesday Thought for November 6, 2019

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I cannot conceive of a God
who rewards and punishes his creatures,
or has a will of the kind
that we experience in ourselves.
Albert Einstein

Father in Heaven,
when the thought of You wakes in our hearts,
let it not awake like a frightened bird
that flies about in dismay,
but like a child waking from its sleep
with a heavenly smile.
Soren Kierkegaard

Whatever your conception of God may be,
believe God to be your Friend.
Frank Crane

Sunday Reflection for November 3, 2019

A Prayer and Reflection for November 3, 2019,
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prayer

God of all people,
all true love has its origin in you,
and leads to you.

Your Son Jesus
showed us how to live our lives in a loving way.

Help us to respond to your love for us
by the way we care for those around us.

We bring to you our lives
with all our joys and sorrows.

As we become more aware of your care for us,
may it help us to show more care
for those in need.

Help us to rejoice
with those who are happy,
and to show concern
for those whose lives are filled with sadness.

Through our care for other people,
may they be become more aware of your love for them.

Reflection

Do you remember this poem
by Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845)
listing all the negative characteristics
of the month of November.

No sun, no moon, no morn, no noon,
no dawn, no dusk, no proper time of day,
no sky, no earthly view,
no distance looking blue,
no road, no street,
no “t’other side the way”
no end to any Row,
no indications where the Crescents go,
no top to any steeple,
no recognitions of familiar people,
no courtesies for showing ‘em,
no knowing ‘em,
no travelling at all, no locomotion,
no inkling of the way, no notion,
“no go” by land or ocean,
no mail, no post,
no news from any foreign coast,
no park, no ring, no afternoon gentility,
no company, no nobility,
no warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthy ease,
no comfortable feel in any member,
no shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

However true that may be,
the month of November also has some attractions,
it is not all doom and gloom.

It can be lovely
to sit in the warm and dry and hear the rain beating down.
It can be lovely
to sit by a fire, even an imitation one.
It can be lovely
to see the light of a candle.
It can be lovely
to have a nice hot meal.
It can be lovely
to walk in the country or by the sea
when it is no longer crowded.

For many people, the month of November
brings a mixture of emotions,
and for many years
it has been a time of remembrance.

Among the writers
who have described the sadness and hope
is Vera Brittain.
She had been granted leave from her nursing duties
for Christmas Day, 1915,
and went, in great excitement to Brighton
to await the evening boat train
which was to bring Roland, her fiance,
home on Christmas leave.
She waited in the lounge of the Grand Hotel
for the telephone call
that would bring news of his arrival.
By 10 o’clock that night no news had come.
She concluded that Christmas calls
had overwhelmed the telephone system,
and went to bed, exhausted but unperturbed.

In the morning she was called to the telephone
and rushed to hear the voice she had waited so long to hear.
But the voice was not that of Roland.
It was a message to say that he had died of wounds
at a casualty clearing station on December 23rd.
In the following February, she wrote this:

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
and I shall see that still the skies are blue,
and feel once more I do not live in vain,
although bereft of you.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
will make the sunny hours of Spring seem gay,
and I shall find the white May blossoms sweet,
though you have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
and crimson roses once again be fair,
and autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
although you are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
to see the passing of the dying year,
and listen to the Christmas songs again,
although you cannot hear.

But, though kind Time may many joys renew,
there is one greatest joy I shall not know again,
because my heart for loss of you,
was broken, long ago.

Such feelings will be felt not only
for those who have died as a result of war,
but also for family and friends
who have died in other ways.

All death brings sadness,
especially when it is someone we love.
All death brings questions,
some that we ask of ourselves,
some that we ask of God.

Whenever death should come,
even for someone with great faith in God,
most people, if they could choose,
would prefer the one who has died
to be with them still.

Knowing this to be impossible
brings a Christian to prayer.
So today as we remember those who have died,
we pray for them
that they may be at peace and at home with God,
and we pray for ourselves
that we may continue to live our lives
inspired by all they did.

Even so, it can be almost impossible
to get rid of feelings of
depression and sadness and loss.
None of this is easy to do,
partly because whenever someone that we love dies
we wish that they could still be with us,
and partly because it’s not easy
to be sure about what happens after we die.

I have found that in times like these,
among the things that may help a little,
are the following couple of thoughts.

There is a story told by Henri Nouwen
about “the Flying Rodleighs”.
They were trapeze artists
who performed in a German circus.
When the circus came to Freiburg,
two of his friends invited him and his father
to see the show.
Afterwards he said:

I will never forget how enraptured I became,
when I first saw the Rodleighs
move through the air, flying and catching,
as elegant as dancers.

The next day I returned to the circus
to see them again,
and introduced myself to them
as one of their great fans.
They invited me to attend their practice sessions,
gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner,
and suggested I travel with them for a week.
I did … and we became good friends.

One day when I was sitting in Rodleigh’s caravan
talking about flying. He said:
“As a flyer
I must have complete trust in my catcher.
You and the public might think that
I am the great star of the trapeze,
but the real star is Joe, my catcher.
He has to be there for me
with split-second precision
and grab me out of the air
as I come to him in the long jump!”

I asked him “How does it work?”
“Well”, Rodleigh said,
“the secret is that the flyer does nothing,
and the catcher everything.
When I fly to Joe,
I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands
waiting for him to catch me
and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar.”

I said, quite surprised, “You do nothing!”
“Nothing”, Rodleigh repeated.
“The worst thing the flyer can do
is to try to catch the catcher.
I’m not supposed to catch Joe.
It’s Joe’s task to catch me.
If I grabbed Joe’s wrists,
I might break them, or he might break mine,
and that would be the end for both of us!
A flyer has to fly, and a catcher has to catch,
and the flyer has to trust, with outstretched arms,
that his catcher will be there for him!”

When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction,
the words of Jesus flashed through my mind:
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Dying is trusting in the Catcher.
Caring for the dying is saying:
“Don’t be afraid.
Remember you are the beloved child of God.
He will be there when you make your long jump.
Don’t try to grab him, he will grab you.
Just stretch out your arms and hands,
and trust, trust, trust.”

That’s what we try to do
in this month of November
as we pray for all those we love.
We ask God
to increase our trust that all will be well.
We do this because
our faith tells us that when we die
we will be safe in the hands of God.

The other thought is something,
that although not easy to do,
is, I’m sure, important to try to remember.
When the Irish writer Frank McCourt died,
Mitch Albom, a friend of his,
wrote about some of his memories of Frank.
At the end of his reflection,
and remembering a particular event in Frank’s life,
he wrote this:
“It is Frank at his impish best,
and it makes me smile,
and smiling is the best cradle
in which to rock your memories.”

As you recall your memories of those you love,
may they make you smile.

Wednesday Thought for October 30, 2019

 

IMG_1763I think that if ever a mortal
heard the voice of God,
it would be in a garden
at the cool of the day.
Frankfurt Moore

Weather means more
when you have a garden.
There’s nothing like
listening to a shower
and thinking how it is soaking in and around
your runner beans and mange tout.
adapted from Marceline Cox

The more one gardens,
the more one learns,
and the more one learns,
the more one realizes how little one knows.
I suppose the whole of life is like that:
the endless complications,
the endless fight against one thing or another,
whether it be green fly on the roses,
or the complexity of personal relationships.
V Sackville-West

The best way to get real enjoyment
out of the garden
is to put on a wide straw hat,
dress in thin loose-fitting clothes,
hold a little trowel in one hand
and a cool drink in the other,
and tell the man where to dig.
Charles Barr

Sunday Reflection for October 27, 2019

A Prayer and Reflection for October 27, 2019,
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prayer

God of all people,
we know that you are our loving Father,
and we come before you
aware of our faults and failings.

We ask you to increase our faith, hope, and love.

Help us not to judge others.

May we always be thankful
for all the good things in our lives.

We thank you for accepting us as we are,
and pray that we may become
more like the people you want us to be.

Reflection

A few years ago I came across this quote
about professional football:
When a game is lost,
or well on the way to being lost,
the bench is quiet,
and the strong faces grow still and watchful.
The only happiness is victory.

You may never have watched
the faces of people sitting on the bench
at a football match.
On those occasions when I have done so,
I have often observed
the expression on the faces of some managers.
Even after a victory,
they look as though they have lost.
If you want to observe
a lot of miserable looking men,
take a look at some of the managers in the Premiership,
even famous ones.

All of this reminds me of two things.
One is a line from Psalm 104,
(it appears at the start of Mass today),
and the second is what was written
by a young boy aged ten and a half.

In 1995, Daniel Whebell,
entered the WH Smith
Young Writer of the Year competition.
Daniel was the goalkeeper
for Perry Street Under 11s in Billericay.
This is what won him the prize.
iI is a mixture of observation
that is both funny, sad, and perceptive,
and it should make us all stop and think,
especially adults.

It’s been nearly a year now
since I started playing in goal
for my local boys’ team,
and I love it.

I play for a happy team.
We all enjoy ourselves,
and it’s not the end of the world if we lose.
The mums and dads who support my team are great,
and so is our manager.
They are all enthusiastic,
and cheer us on.
But I must say that I have felt sorry
for some of the boys who have played against us.

What annoys me is the dad,
who probably hardly knows the offside rule,
screaming at the referee,
or shouting instructions to the players
that are too complicated.
Even the professionals
would have difficulty understanding them.

A friend of my dad’s,
who used to be a semi-professional footballer,
used to run an under 12 team.
I said to him:
“It must have been great running your own team.”
He gave me a sad look, and replied:
“It could be fun,
but the parents ruin it.
I’ve lost count of the times
I have told a boy I’m resting him,
only to find his mum or dad abusing me.
The boy has taken it well,
his parents have not.
If I play a boy at right back,
his parents tell me he should be a striker.
They tell me to play 4-4-2, 4-3-3,
two wingers, twin strikers.
The list is endless.
What really riles me is that
most of the dads
haven’t kicked a ball in their lives,
and the mums hated football
until their little Tommy
began kicking one around the garden.”

I have stood in goal
and heard parents say to their son:
“If he gets past you again,
pull him down!”

As for some of the poor referees,
they are often hated by the parents.
They say:
“How dare he say
Jimmy was offside!
How dare he say
my Richard fouled someone!
How dare he say
my little Robert punched their centre half!”

But it’s the other boys I feel sorry for.
All we want to do is kick a ball about,
enjoy ourselves, and have fun.
But some of the teams we play
are made to feel like failures if we beat them.
Once I heard a manager tell his team:
“You’re all pathetic!”

If boys like us are shouted and screamed at
when we’re so young,
I think it has a big effect on us.
I’m not surprised that so many boys
are fed up with football
by the time they are teenagers.
Or if they are not fed up,
by the time they are playing
for a grown-ups side,
they spend more time
trying to foul other players
or swearing at the referee,
than they do learning to pass properly
or shoot straight.

A mum once said to my dad:
“If Philip’s team loses in the morning,
we eat Sunday lunch in silence.”
I have always thought
sport was meant to be fun.
Silly me.

The words of Psalm 104 today are:
“Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice.”

Among the words connected to rejoicing
are ‘enjoyment’ and ‘fun’.
That’s the word that Daniel used to describe
what he always thought sport should be.
He wrote, in the context of football,
about how some grown-ups react.
But he could have mentioned many other things,
most of them not connected to sport.

Maybe today is a good day to ask ourselves:
How do I react to what happens in my life?
Not just the serious things,
but everyday events when things go wrong
or don’t turn out the way I want.

I know that there are many things in life
that can make us feel far from rejoicing,
and that there may be little in life
that we can call fun.

But, are there times when,
as Daniel, aged ten and a half, would say,
I ruin things by my reaction?

Wednesday Thought for October 23, 2019

 

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My life
seems to have become suddenly hollow,
and I do not know what is hanging over me.
I cannot even put the shadow
that has fallen on me
into words.
At least into written words.
I would give a great deal
for a friend’s voice.
John Symonds

No medicine is more valuable,
none more efficacious,
none better suited
to the cure of all our temporal ills
than a friend
to whom we may turn for consolation
in time of trouble,
and with whom we may share our happiness
in time of joy.
Aelred of Rievaulx

One discovers a friend by chance,
and cannot but feel regret
that twenty or thirty years of life
may have been spent
without the least knowledge of them.
Charles Warner

Do not remove a fly
from your friend’s forehead
with a hatchet.
Chinese Proverb

Sunday Reflection for October 20, 2019

A Prayer and Reflection for October 20, 2019,
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prayer

God of all people,
we know that you are our loving Father,
caring for us throughout our lives.

May we pray to you with trust,
and always remember that
your love for us is constant and unchanging.

May the message of Jesus,
bring us wisdom when we are confused,
encouragement when we grow weary,
and guidance and strength to follow him always.

Help us to be patient,
and always know what hope your call holds for us.

May we remember everyone in our prayers.

Reflection

Jane Taylor wrote these lines:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
how I wonder what you are,
up above the world so high,
like a diamond in the sky.

Spike Milligan wrote these:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
I’ve just found out what you are,
a lump of rusting rocket case,
a rubbish tip in outer space.

Often when we read something
we could ask if it is just a description
or if there is a message in it for us.

Sometimes it can be crucial
to ask the right question.

In one of his fables,
Aesop wrote about a conversation
between an oak tree and some reeds:
A very large oak tree
was uprooted by a powerful wind,
and thrown across a stream.
It fell among some reeds, and said to them:
‘Why is it that you,
who are so light and weak,
are not completely crushed by these strong winds?
The reeds replied:
‘You are a strong and powerful oak tree,
and because you fight and struggle with the wind,
you are destroyed;
whereas all of us reeds bend and sway,
with a gentle breeze,
but because we also do this
even in a powerful wind,
we remain unbroken,
and so escape destruction.

If we then asked the question:
Do oak trees and reeds really speak to each other?
we would be missing the point of the fable,
because we’ve asked the wrong question.
Fables are simply
a method of teaching some wisdom about life,
in an entertaining way.
So the right question to ask is:
What is Aesop trying to tell us?

Most of the time
when it comes to trying to understand
the message of the Bible,
and especially when it comes
to trying to understand the message of Jesus,
it is important to ask the right questions.
If we don’t, we may find that
as with the poem and the fable of Aesop,
we can miss the point.

Among the right questions to ask
about anything that Jesus said or did, are:
Who is Jesus talking to?
What is he trying to tell them?
and most importantly,
What is he telling me?

In the parables, in an entertaining way,
Jesus was trying to teach some wisdom about life,
to help people understand what God is like,
and to encourage people
to live life in a certain way.

In chapter 8 of the gospel of Luke,
Jesus is talking to people about a number of things:
he talks about the right attitude to prayer,
and about persevering and not losing heart.

We know this is not easy to do
when we are being persecuted
or in great pain or distress.

Then Jesus contrasts a judge,
to whom justice means little,
with God who loves us,
and he ends by asking a question.

The question he asked the people he met,
was to encourage them to follow his way.
Some answered his question with a ‘yes’,
others with a ‘no’.

He asks us the same question,
but it is only ourselves who can answer,
no one can answer for us.
It is up to us to decide
whether or not we want to follow his way.
Depending on what is happening in our life
it may be easy or difficult to answer,
so that is why it is important
to pray about it.

But, and it is a big but,
our prayers should be honest,
and not in some fancy language
that makes us think ‘what’s that all about?’
Our normal way of speaking will usually be much better.

So here’s one of my favourites from David Kossoff.
I’ve been thinking about stupidity, Lord.
You have a minute?

Not my own stupidity.
I avoid thinking too much about my own;
I get depressed.
No, the kinds of stupidity I meet
that make me go tetchy and acid.
Or worse, tense with unspoken insult.

Must a person suffer fools, Lord? Must he?
Is it so written in the Book?

I’ll be honest, Lord. I can’t do it.

You made us all. Of infinite variety.
You gave us the vast magics of heredity and resemblance
and blood groups and genetic patterns
and ‘just like his father’.
A sort of ‘I’ll make Adam and Eve
and they can make the rest’.

So it follows that in the infinite variety
there must be a fair number of people
who will drive a fair number of people
round the bend.
Part of thy glorious plan, Lord?
Thy Inscrutable Blueprint?

Alright. Let me not grow lippy.
Let me wax not disrespectful.
If the suffering of fools
is part of the teaching of tolerance,
good.
If patience with idiots maketh a person better,
also good.
But let me tell you, Lord,
the tolerance and patience
is most of the time
wasted on the fools and idiots!

I’m not joking, indeed not,
it’s a serious matter, honest!
A person could spit.
Who needs ‘em? Who seeks ‘em out?
You gave to me (and indeed I thank you)
a certain sympathy of nature.
So people talk to me.
Too much and often for too long.
Most of the time I don’t mind.
It is a gentle cross to bear.
(I ought to put that differently perhaps,
forgive me,
but you know me well enough
to know what I’m on about.)

My father used to say ‘Have time for people.’
He had time for people, my father,
bless his sweet memory.
Does he keep well, Lord?
Give him my love.

A person should have time for people.
My father said so, and so do you.
But all people, Lord? All?
The bigoted, the ignorant, the intolerant,
the small-minded, the envious,
the self-centred, the vain,
the patronising, the phoney,
the wicked?

Must I, Lord?
If I must, perhaps not so gentle a cross….
I must tell you, dear Friend,
that the ‘must I?’ is rhetorical;
an academic question.
For frankly, already admitted, I can’t.

No.
Wait.
You’ve shown me often enough
that ‘can’t’ is the talk of children.
The words of no faith.
I have faith; I believe.
Help me, Lord, to suffer fools,
and all those included in the foregoing list.
Help me to keep my temper
and not use my ice-voice
and to avoid bad language.
(Can I punch the occasional eye?)
Help me be patient and bite back insult
and avoid argument with the stupid bastards.
(Sorry, Lord, it slipped out.)
I’ll try.
Help me,
I’ll try.

Perhaps when we are not sure
of what words to use when we pray,
we should, as the saying goes,
just say it,
and not worry too much
about how it comes out.