Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Spiritual Journey First Thursday is hosted today by Chris Margocs.

For Spiritual Thursday, Chris suggested we write about “those who have passed and left something behind in our hearts.” My father died 5 months ago. My grief returns when I’m struck by something I want to share with him. A few weeks ago, we were driving to my daughter’s house to watch the LSU game and without realizing it, I thought about calling my dad to see if he was watching the game. Bam! Before I knew it, tears were welling up and I couldn’t speak.

I’ve started listening to a new podcast with Anderson Cooper on grief, All There Is. The episodes I’ve listened to are powerful and poignant. While I was blessed to have my father for 61 years, loss is loss is loss.

Anderson Cooper interviewed Stephen Colbert, and I was touched by what Colbert said about grief.

It’s a gift to exist. And with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that. But if you are grateful for your life. Then you have to be grateful for all of it… I have some understanding that everybody is suffering and however imperfectly, acknowledge their suffering and connect with them and to love them in a deep way that makes you grateful for the fact that you have suffered so that you can know that about other people. I want to be the most human I can be, and that involves acknowledging and ultimately being grateful for the things that I wish didn’t happen because they gave me a gift.

Stephen Colbert, All There is

I’m not sure I am at the point at which I can be grateful for the pain of loss, but I can be grateful for the life my father had and the legacy he left behind.

Last weekend my sister and I visited my mother. We took her to church on Sunday. We have a family history at St. James. When my parents were married there, my mother’s father served the church as a priest. I was baptized, confirmed, and married there. When I walked down the aisle holding my mother’s hand, we both got teary-eyed. My father’s ashes reside in the church walls in the columbarium. His presence was with us in that moment.

St. James Episcopal Church, Jackson, MS (photo by Margaret Simon)

I subscribe to Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals newsletter. A recent writing prompt suggested composing a prayer beginning with the Sanskrit prayer, “May creatures everywhere be happy, healthy, and free.” Here is my prayer:

May creatures everywhere be happy, healthy, and free.
May you sleep as soundly as my old dog Charlie on his therapeutic bed.
May you laugh as loudly as my granddaughter Stella on Facetime, eating a cookie, crumbs all around her mouth, smacking between giggles.
May your muscles feel as stretched and tired as mine after yin yoga class,
still tingling from pigeon pose.
May our paths cross on a fall evening when the breeze is cool, and we see the bright light of Jupiter, shining with eternal hope.
May we share a moment of memory of a life we knew was good.
May we cry a little.
May you look forward to tomorrow feeling the peace of knowing you are prepared.
Yes, and be still
and know God
as the deepest, most truthful,
and holy part
of you.

Margaret Simon

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Join the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts at Karen’s blog.

Today is the beginning. Each day is, I suppose, but today begins National Poetry Month, my favorite month of the year. The KidLit Progressive Poem is off to a wonderful spinning start with Kat Apel.

It’s Maundy Thursday in another strange Holy Week. Thankfully, the 4 person choir at my church is gathering again and singing (masked) from the loft. Maundy Thursday music is my favorite. Feels holier. Foreshadowing death to resurrection. The solemn act of foot washing reminds us of Jesus’ servanthood and love. We are not quite to resurrection from the pandemic yet, but having had my vaccine, I am feeling a sense of relief and new beginnings.

The first three months of this year I read The Artist’s Way and met weekly with a group on Zoom. Our last meeting on Tuesday night felt sacred. We each shared a creative work. Creativity makes us human and vulnerable, but also celebratory and worthy. One of the tasks from the author Julia Cameron was to write an artist’s prayer. I didn’t write one yet. Jone inspired me when she shared hers. She included her past One Little Words into her prayer. My words are reach, open, presence, grace, explore, cherish, embrace, inspire.

Dear Great Creator,

I am here today
to be an instrument of your work
to explore your world with curiosity, to open myself
to your creativity. I trust your hand
will reach for mine,
guide my pen to something new.
May I be present in this day, embrace nature,
follow the contrail of your vision for me.

May I be filled with grace
so to bless others with my offering,
May I nurture the child within,
accept her imperfections and needs,
cherish her with love and devotion.
Help me to know I am not alone.
By your side, I can be inspired
to breathe your spirit
into each day.

Margaret Simon, always in draft
Bridal wreath, photo by Margaret Simon

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Holy Week always brings up for me a mixture of feelings.  I feel a call to silent contemplation.  Years ago I offered a Good Friday meditation.  It originally came out of a prayer vigil from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  I had signed up for the 6 AM time slot and was moved by the rising of the sun as I sat alone in the quiet church.  We don’t have a vigil anymore, but the idea of sitting in quiet meditation early in the morning of Good Friday is still something I want to experience and share.

With four of us in the sanctuary, I read aloud Mary Oliver’s poem “I Happened to be Standing.”  Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine.  I love how simple and profound her poems are.  I searched for this one.  I remembered how it looked on the page, but I didn’t remember the title or which book it was published in.  I located five of her books around my home, none of them placed together.  Finally, A Thousand Mornings sang to me from the living room shelf, and there it was in all its humble glory.

I Happened to Be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
(Read and listen to the complete poem here.)


As I sat, I recalled Psalm 22 from the Maundy Thursday stripping of the altar. I wanted to respond to this psalm with my own psalm. I wrote:

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Happy, Happy Easter! May you find joy in the quiet and love in the sounds of the birds!

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday. Each week Holly Mueller invites us to reflect on our journey. This week the theme is doubt. I have no doubt of the existence of God because 30 years ago I was witness to it.

On July 3, 1985 I dropped off my four month old baby girl at day care. It was summer, and I wasn’t teaching, but I needed to run some errands, and she needed to get accustomed to the day care. However at noon while I ate lunch with my husband, I had an uneasy feeling. I needed to go check on my baby.

I dropped by and took Maggie in my arms to nurse her. Something wasn’t right. Her breathing was quick, almost like a dog’s panting. After she nursed, she spit up. Not unusual, but the liquid was tinted with reddish brown. That sent me into panic mode. I asked the day care worker to call the doctor. They told her to have me come in immediately.

Usually at the pediatrician’s office, you sit in the waiting room for hours waiting to see the doctor. Not this time. They whisked me to the back. The doctor came in quickly and listened to Maggie’s heart. He had a grave expression on his face. Her heart rate was too fast. She needed to go to the hospital.

This was pre-cell phone era, so I used the doctor’s office phone to call my husband. His secretary sent me to hold, and I was cut off. I called back and cried into the phone. “This is an emergency!”

The hospital was near the doctor’s office. Again, there was no waiting. No long form filling. The nurses grabbed my baby and within minutes had an IV in her tiny little head pumping in medicine. The diagnosis was tachycardia, an abnormal fast heart rate.

Hours passed, and Maggie’s heart rate did not slow down. It was racing at 200+ beats per minute. Our priest came by and prayed with us. He, too, was grave and sad. Was I going to lose my first child?

Around midnight, the doctors decided to send us to Ochsner in New Orleans by helicopter. I would fly with Maggie and Jeff would drive with friends.

I was laid on the stretcher first. Then they handed me the baby. We lay together chest to chest. Heartbeat to heartbeat.


Helicopters are loud. There was no talking to anyone. As we lifted off, we ascended straight up into the sky. No build up to take off as in an airplane. One minute on the ground, the next in the air.

While we flew, I prayed fiercely. I don’t remember the words, but they were like those of Jesus on the cross. “Take this cup away from me.” I didn’t pray for healing. I prayed for presence.

In the sky high above, I felt the physical presence of God, a warmth of hands wrapped around my shoulders. I felt calm, peaceful. I knew everything would be okay. Maggie’s heart slowed to the rhythm of my own.

The equipment at Ochsner was more sophisticated, so the doctors could tell that her fast heart rate was a sinus rhythm. It was not tachycardia. There was an infection somewhere in her system that caused the fast rate.

After many pricks and prods, Maggie was diagnosed with pneumonia. Remember the blood in her spittle? All was well, and we returned home by July 5th with a hoarse and tired baby girl.

When faced with tragedy, I am completely confident in God’s presence. Whether or not God physically healed Maggie doesn’t matter. I know that a strong and holy spirit was with me. We were both healed.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round-up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Holly invites us to think about our spiritual journey. This week her theme could not have been more appropriate for the beginning of school, praying for our students.

Prayer is not enough. I am in no way discounting prayer. Sometimes it’s all you can do. But there are times when God calls on you to do more. This week was one of those times.

I don’t know why God chose me. I became the confidant of the mother of one of my students. Perhaps it was something I said in a conference with her. Perhaps it was her daughter’s trust in me. Maybe my phone number was the only teacher’s number she had. For whatever reason, I was the one who received her desperate call for help.

Many times over the course of the last few days, I have held my prayer hands pressed against my forehead. “God, give me your strength.”

Sometimes prayer is not enough.

This time I had to act. I had to turn to administrators, authorities, and counselors. I could not do this alone. I had to stay strong to tell her to stay strong. My precious student’s family was falling apart. It was not enough for me to pray. I held her tight. I helped her tell her classmates. I gave her someone to trust, someone to lean on, someone to be her advocate.

Jesus was called “teacher.” Teacher means more than educating a child. A teacher should be a stronghold for her students. She must create a safe environment. She should be open and flexible while respecting policy and authority.

Teaching is an act of the heart. My students become important in my life. Their families are important to me. Their lives are important.

In prayer, we can bring our students close to us, close to God. In action, we can express to each and every child that they matter, their lives matter. Our words should be carefully chosen, spoken with love and kindness. Because someday God may call us to action, to be His voice, and to save a child.

praying child

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