Friday, April 20, 2018

Uncommon Prayers

Katherine Bomer's The Journey is Everything introduced me to writer Brian Doyle. Tragically, Brian Doyle died of a brain tumor in 2017, yet I continue to savor his words. 

One of my favorite Brian Doyle books is An Uncommon Prayer: 100 Celebrations of the Miracle and Muddle of the Ordinary. This book, full of celebration of the "ordinary," is a collection of prayers. To me, it reads like a treasury of rich list poems. 
An example of part of one of Brian Doyle's prayers

Although my journey of faith has not always been smooth, I have always returned to prayer. Even before I was in a daily writing routine, I often wrote prayers in my writer's notebook. 

Somehow, penning a prayer makes the thoughts behind it feel more meaningful. Sacred. 

I found emulating Brian Doyle's prayers to be easier than I thought and satisfying. Last month I wrote an ode to my writer's notebook, but I thought that it would also be fitting to write prayer of thanksgiving in honor of my writer's notebook and writing below: 

Prayer in Thanksgiving of my Writer's Notebook and Writing
Listen, I know I could not have have made it through the last year and a half without writing. Every. Single. Day. Because it was the simplicity of my Paper Mate Flair pen, a hard cover blank book from CVS, and a quiet spot. Writing instrument. Paper. Time. Repeat. This routine enveloped me. It did not strain my budget, and so each day I was compelled to visit my notebook. I celebrate the release writing provides me. I pray that I am not the only one who finds healing through writing, giving me clarity when my mind is swollen with enormous questions and my heart cries out in pain. I pray that I can continue to have this precious time when I can pour out tangled emotions - so often these are the words I find that I cannot speak out loud yet. I ask You to help me sustain my daily writing practice. And so: amen.   


This past week at school included state standardized testing for our freshmen and sophomores. As I reflected on proctoring to a freshmen group this week, I wrote another prayer:

Prayer for Freshmen Taking State Mandated Standardized Tests
Even though I suspect my students are as annoyed as I am. Even though I assume many of these students do not feel this assessment is worthy of their time. Even though I am aware that this test heightened the anxiety for many students, while some did not worry about the end result. Even though I know these scores do not define who each student is or what each individual is capable of producing. Even though I know their results are just a snapshot. How my group of freshmen showed up each day without complaint, even when I took away cell phones and could not allow them to do anything but sit when they finished each section. How these adolescents did not give me grief as their proctor, knowing that I did not have a choice. Even as I noticed a few of their faces, devoid of emotion. Some in deep concentration. Some in frustration. Some in apathy. And yet, a few freshmen thanked me and bid me a good day as the final session of testing concluded. For these group of students and the conclusion of this task, I am grateful. And so: amen. 

This week's testing schedule


  1. Both prayers read as prose poetry. I stopped going to church a long time ago, but I have not abandoned my faith. Lately I've been thinking a lot about Psalms and Proverbs. I'm not familiar w/ the book "An Uncommon Prayer," but it sounds like a comforting text, and your prayers remind me that I have something very powerful to give me strength: the power to use words well and to understand that words and writing empower and comfort me.

    1. Thank you Glenda! Your comments always make me so teary. An Uncommon Prayer is heavy in the Catholic faith. I am not Catholic, but still appreciated the emotion and beautiful voice that Brian Doyle but into this work.


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