A sequel wasn’t planned for “Praying the Alphabet,” but I was writing more than working in late November. Skin cancer surgery dealt me a sore hand, and the doctor cautioned against popping the stitches loose. I listened carefully due to a pain allergy.
But wait there’s more. The day before my procedure, something sharp stuck through my tennis shoe while clipping vines in the woods. I didn’t see a snake, so I switched to a limp and clip technique. That worked okay until I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle.
With a stitched hand, sore foot, and tender ankle, I was moving so slowly the buzzards began circling. I relaxed under an ancient birch one afternoon as Harriet splashed through the nearby stream. An alphabetical prayer session focused on topics rather than people.
What subjects I covered would be a guess and don’t really matter. These aren’t suggestions, just examples of how letters can lead to ideas.
America is getting mentioned a second time because the need for prayers is critical. Sometimes, however, my requests are for a nation that suits my preferences more than one which pleases God. Hopefully there’s considerable overlap, but God’s perspective is unlimited whereas mine barely reaches the horizon.
Beatitudes seem a good use of B. In Matthew 5:3-12 they are found within The Sermon on the Mount. That’s excellent reading, better than anything you’ll find at Joiner’s Corner. If you only have time to ponder Jesus’ words or mine, choose his.
C is for Can. I was aggravated when my foot and hand interfered with work plans. Dwelling on limitations, however, is unproductive, whether they are minor or severe. Paul said it beautifully in Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
My intention to limit each letter to one paragraph is going off the rails at this point. While writing, I recalled a moment from decades ago at Vienna United Methodist Church. I’m not sure why I was in the congregation, but a teenage girl, Jeanna Gregory, gave a memorable reading of “The Little Engine That Could.”
Her enthusiastic presentation was intended for children, but I found inspiration too. I need to read that short story often to remind me of the little engine’s mantra. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”
For D I’ll go with Dogs again. Of all the creatures God made, I don’t know another that’s so appreciative and forgiving. I read a prayer somewhere that said, “God help me be the person my dog thinks I am.” That says it perfectly.
Environment will represent E today, an area that needs our prayers and efforts. God entrusted us to care for his amazing creation, but my guess is he’s a bit disappointed. Jane and I recently watched a Netflix series titled “Down to Earth,” which explored some means toward a healthier planet and conveyed an underlying message – the solution to pollution begins at home. The same holds true for our spiritual environment.
Friends gets the nod for F. I visited with Mr. Charles Speight last spring, not long before he turned 100. When I asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said, “ Good health and good friends.” One of the few advantages I’ve found of aging is having older friends. Mr. Charles is the most senior of that group and continues to inspire us kids.
Gratitude will close us out today. I don’t know the origin, but Linda Hobbs is who I first recall saying, “Let gratitude be your attitude.” Linda and I grew up a mile apart and worked together for many years at Bank of Dooly. She shared that jewel of wisdom in one of our Wednesday morning staff meetings.
It’s easy to feel gratitude for blessings, but I find it hard to appreciate challenges. Paul, however, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, wrote about the thorn in his flesh and the value of its humbling effect. He was grateful for something unpleasant because it improved his usefulness to Christ.
I would have rather been clipping bullis vines along the stream than praying through the alphabet or writing a column. But the thorn in my foot reminded me of Paul’s situation, and his admonition to give thanks in all circumstances. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
So I’ll end this rambling prayer with a simple heartfelt plea, that an attitude of gratitude might shine its light through me.