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Friday, August 17, 2007

A prayer for children

Perhaps it is the photos of children dying from AIDS or malnutrition or from bombs or bullets that I see when I flip through the pages of National Geographic and can hardly steel myself to read about.

Maybe it was the tiniest of children who begged as I walked the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Then, again, maybe it was the words of my mother the very few times she spoke of her impoverished childhood in a loveless home. She was taken in as an orphan by cousins at four to work as a maid and until she graduated from high school never had a new article of clothing.

Maybe it was the young kid I interviewed in an outreach prison class who told me how intriguing solid geometry was to him, a class never offered to him when he attended public school. (The teacher told me he was "brilliant.")

Maybe it was of all of those and more, but I was particularly moved by "A Prayer for Children," we recited Sunday at First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport. It was the day we recognized third graders.

The prayer is powerful, thought provoking.

It is too long to print in its entirety, but a couple of sections present a sampling of the whole:

"We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
"who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money."
"And we pray for those
"who never get dessert,
"who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
"who watch their parents watch them die,
"who can’t find any bread to steal,
"who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
"whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
"whose monsters are real

"We pray for children who want to be carried
"and for those who must,
"for those we never give up on and for those
"who don’t get a second chance.
"We pray for those we smother with love...and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it. Lord, help us to be that hand. Amen."



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