Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet, sounding heaven and earth;
Engine against the Almighty, sinner’s tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days’ world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.
George Herbert 1593-1633
Herbert died when he was forty, filled with faith for a future life. As I write, my own daughter is dying at the age of fifty and I am filled with grief.
Herbert’s faith is always a source of inspiration, but I find myself unable to pray with his kind of faith.
People have placed prayers for Sharon in Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall several times over the years, and prayers have been said in synagogues and churches for her as well as in homes and fields.
As a child I prayed, too, and I know that Sharon prays regularly, but in the face of her disease prayer seems inadequate. As an adult, I rarely prayed, but today I will say a prayer and pray for her peace and say a prayer in admiration of her grace as she faces death.
I will say a prayer now while she holds onto life and wishes all around her well. She is in the company of devoted friends, students, and family, and if George Herbert was right and there is an after-life she will be with them again.