-Monday poetry-

There are a lot of books on prayer out there. I have a hard time reading any of those. This poem, though. This made sense to me. I didn’t write it, but in honor of Monday being poetry day on the blog, here are some words from the great Wendell Berry.

An Embarrassment

“Do you want to ask
the blessing?”

“No. If you do,
go ahead.”

He went ahead:
his prayer dressed up

in Sunday clothes
rose a few feet

and dropped with a soft

If a lonely soul
did ever cry out

in company its true
outcry to God,

it would be as though
at a sedate party

a man suddenly
removed his clothes

and took his wife
passionately in his arms.

      -Wendell Berry

My extrovert husband didn’t see this poem the same way I did. When I read it to Roger, he immediately jumped to the defense of the the eloquent pray-er. Maybe it was the fact that I prefaced the reading with, “This is the best thing I’ve ever read about prayer!” He considers it his duty to pull me away from any emotional extreme and to point out every fallacy I may have missed. The guy’s a gem.

But he’s probably right. Some of us are naturally eloquent. Words come easily; conversation is not sacred. It only makes sense that for those people, prayer should flow like their natural speech. I can’t (I mean, I shouldn’t) judge them for being beautifully verbose in their public conversations with God. It’s not always a pretense and it doesn’t make their prayers less sincere.

But there’s another whole group of people: the poets and thinkers, the quiet philosophers and introverts who never bare their souls in front of an audience.  If our prayers are quieter, or shorter or sound less personal, it’s not always a direct reflection of our souls. I adore my children and I let them know it – but not necessarily in front of other people. The relationship is personal, not for public show. It only makes sense to me that our relationship with God is going to be similar to our relationships with the other people we love.

We’re not all going to do it the same way.

Thank you, Wendell Berry, for putting some of my thoughts about prayer into words.


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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3 Responses to -Monday poetry-

  1. Michael & Kelly Blanchard says:

    Ruthie Enjoyed your blog today and the exteriors/interiors tumbling of grace expressed through humans. I have felt for some time that Wendell blesses me most in the endearing way he locate goodness in us, without scraping our knees in judgment. It’s a beautiful gift. Your recounting the quite rooms of affection you hold your children in brought to mind this recent song. No Berry fruit to be sure and gimping without it melody but certain fits in on the topic of prayer…both spoken, shown and above all lived. Enjoy. mkb


  2. i just love this! (yes, i’m stalking the archives of your blog.)


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