Prayer Offered for April 15, 2024

Today, let us reflect on different ways to pray from Naomi Shihab Nye, an Arab-American poet:

There was the method of kneeling,

a fine method if you lived in a country where stones were smooth.

The women dreamed wistfully of bleached courtyards,

hidden corners where knee fit rock…

There were the men who had been shepherds so long they walked like sheep.

Under the olive trees, they raised their arms—Hear us! We have pain on Earth!

We have so much pain there is no place to store it…

At night the men ate heartily… and were happy in spite of the pain,

because there was also happiness.

Some prized the pilgrimage, wrapping themselves in new white linen…

When they arrived at Mecca they would circle the holy places,…

and return, their lean faces housing mystery.

While for certain cousins and grandmothers the pilgrimage occurred daily,

lugging water from the spring or balancing the baskets of grapes…

And there were the ones who didn’t care about praying. The young ones.

The ones who had been to America.

They told the old ones, you are wasting your time…

The old ones prayed for the young ones. They prayed for Allah to mend their brains…

And occasionally there would be one who did none of this,

the old man Fowzi the fool, who beat everyone at dominoes,

insisted he spoke with God as he spoke with goats,

and was famous for his laugh.

So, Gracious God of Many Names, we thank You for the diversity of ways to pray; and however we pray, grant that we may pray in amazement and gratitude that we are here, now, choosing to bring hope and encouragement to those we serve.—AMEN.

(“Different Ways to Pray” in Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye)

Sr. Michelle Gorman, RSM
Prayer Date