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A Prayer and a Memory

I was looking ahead in my published Daybook of My Personal Faith and in August I came to a poem I wrote titled “The Word and the Breath.” The minister referred to in that posting was Janice Sutton Lynn, and re-reading that poem and thinking of Janice again sprung me over to another memory.

I have a place in my morning routine when I talk to God out loud as I lie in bed. And last week as I prayed, I said “Help me to remember…” and the phrase instantly brought this memory of Janice to mind.

She served as minister of Sparta United Methodist Church for five years and one of her amazing gifts was her relationship with the children of the church. In the halls she instantly knelt down to be able to talk with them on their level. She knew their names. She knew what was going in their lives.

And on Sunday morning when she was giving the children’s sermon, they scrambled quickly up to the altar to sit with her. They participated, answered questions, asked some of their own, and then at the end Janice and the children developed a prayer ending. 

She would say “let’s pray” and some child would say “Dear God” and everyone, including Janice, would echo “Dear God.” Then she would continue with a short prayer and it too was an echo prayer and the children (and the congregation) would echo each phrase of hers.

Usually at some point near the end she would say “Help us to remember…” and I can still hear the lilt of her voice. The children would echo “Help us to remember” and she would go on with the prayer.

Well, last week as I said my prayer and happened to say those words again, I thought immediately of Janice and the lilt of her voice, and smiled in thankfulness that we had had her for those five years.

I also thought how profound for me and for the children it was to say fairly constantly “Help me to remember…” because it reinforced that despite my very good intentions I do forget and that it’s a good prayer to ask God to remind me. Plus it’s reassuring to know that God will do that, without recrimination, without judgment (I would think you would remember yourself), just lovingly remind me again of whatever stumbling block I have come up against once more.

Our minds are interesting–in their darting from year to year, in their collections of memories, and in their holding carefully those things that we will need again. And that too is a gift from God.

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