Where Does Prayer Begin?

by Melannie Svoboda SND on June 4, 2018

One morning during prayer I read this petition from a booklet I was using: “Help us to reach out to those who are elderly, lonely, or ill.”

I paused. Then I chuckled. “That sounds a lot like me!” I said.

I qualify for the elderly part. After all, I’ve been around the sun 73 times. Anyone who’s made that many solar orbits has earned the title elderly. Or (employing another metaphor) when I look into the mirror in the morning, I clearly see that I am no longer a spring chicken. I’m more of a winter hen. I know some of you reading this blog are also winter hens (or winter roosters!) or summer or autumn fowl.

And that word lonely also describes me at times. Although I have a wonderful family and beautiful friends, I still feel “alone” at times. Or unconnected. Or not completely understood. Heck, I don’t even understand myself at times—my anxieties, my fears, my yearnings. How can I expect others to understand me? The poet John Donne wrote, “No man (or woman) is an island.” But Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “I feel we are all islands—in a common sea.” Sometimes I lean more toward Anne’s take on things than John’s.

Even a winter rooster can still have lots of love inside.

And that word ill? That too describes me at times. I’m guessing many of you reading this blog can say the same thing about yourselves—whether you’re feeling a kink in your lower back or are dealing with a serious illness.

So, “Help us to reach out to those who are elderly, lonely, or ill.” “That’s me,” I said. “Start with that.”

So when I turned the prayer around to point at myself, what did I pray for?

For myself and for others like me, I prayed for more gratitude for all the years I’ve been privileged to live on this gorgeous and mysterious planet. And I prayed for less complaining about the small things that irk me but are just a part of daily life: traffic jams, computer glitches, ubiquitous ads, grumpy people, long lines, and inconveniencing weather. I prayed for more patience with my kinks, my imperfections, my anxieties. I asked to accept my level of energy at this particular time in my life. And I prayed for greater humility and trust when it comes to letting go of things… like unreal expectations… the desire to be in control… the need to be right… the belief that I must and can fix everything—including other people.

The old proverb says, “Charity begins at home.” Sometimes our prayer does too.

What do you pray for? Do you ever pray for yourself?

I chose a David Haas song for today entitled, “You Are Mine.” I don’t know where you are spiritually today, but my prayer is this: May you hear God or Jesus saying these words to you today…

Do you have anything to comment on or add? We like hearing from you!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy June 4, 2018 at 5:24 am

Thank you from another elder !

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Kathleen June 4, 2018 at 6:15 am

What a beautiful reflection Sr. Melannie!

Lately, I have been feeling the kinks in my body. Someone recently told me those pains are just visitors and not permanent residents. I do pray for relief at times.

Kathleen

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Pete June 4, 2018 at 6:21 am

I LOVE that song! What a way to start the week. Turning 80 doesn’t seem so bad after all!

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Susan June 4, 2018 at 7:43 am

I feel a little guilty admitting this but I do pray for myself most days. I pray for understanding,patience, acceptance and a more loving heart. Sometimes I pray for my aches and pains. I feel by asking the Lord to help me I can in turn help others better.

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Mary June 4, 2018 at 8:05 am

Sister Melanie, the Spirit blows me away! I read your blog every week. You touch my heart in so many ways. This particular song today just wants to make me get up and shout! WE ARE SO CONNECTED! This past weekend I attended a David Haas concert and music workshop in Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada. David Haas music now has more meaning than ever in my life.

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Carol Kapostasy June 4, 2018 at 8:26 am

This is one of the songs I want at my funeral mass! It’s so comforting & beautiful & the picture at the end with Jesus & the Holy Spirit facing towards God the Father bring the Trinity into focus for me. As for your reflection it inspired a great conversation with my husband about taking TIME to be still & quiet in order to be able to “see & hear” God’s presence.

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Barbara June 4, 2018 at 8:27 am

I also love the song. He is with us all the time. Sit and talk with Him. He listens to us; He loves us.

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Shirley June 4, 2018 at 8:34 am

Thank you Sister for the beautiful words and your choice of song was great. I guess I fall into the elder category as on the 2nd I turned 72. But as you said it is only a number! Have a blessed week!

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FRAN SALONE-PELLETIER June 4, 2018 at 8:38 am

I, too, have been around the sun…nearly 81 times! I love the way Sr. Melanie puts prayer into the every day. I would add the possibility of praying a welcome to all that comes each day as healing [and I am paraphrasing another’s words here]. To welcome all is to enter another phase of life that diminishes my concentration on me, deepens the petition and widens my understanding of the ‘all-ness’ of God. Now, I am no longer asking, I am receiving. Shalom, Fran

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Theresa Peck June 4, 2018 at 8:49 am

Perfect timing. I am in retreat and this reflection works for me. 83 and much to be grateful for including the “what will hurt this am”question

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Peggy June 4, 2018 at 9:01 am

I pray to be an encourager each day. Some days that is easier than others. I look forward to your posts each Monday morning.

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Kathleen Koenen June 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

Beautiful! Today is first day of a retreat for me. Theme compassionate love.

I will pray for myself today. I too have gone around the sun a few times and need to find the blessings and have patience.

Hope for all the hopeless is a good mantra today.

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Betty June 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

Thank you, Melannie. I loved your reflection this week. I don’t think much about praying for myself. But your reflection reminded me that I do need to speak to the Lord about what it is that I need. My concerns are all always for my family and friends. Even with my cancer diagnosis, I seldom pray for myself. I know that God is taking good care of me. So perhaps I will continue to think of others and pray for others more than myself. I think that’s okay.

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rosemary June 4, 2018 at 10:31 am

Melannie, I read the same petition – and failed to see “me”. At 76, that’s called “denial”! Thank you for opening my eyes to reality – with your usual insight, understanding, and prayerful spirit. You have broadened my vision and heart!

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Debra Tomaselli June 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

Beautiful! Thank you!

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Jean June 4, 2018 at 11:11 am

Good Monday Morning Sister Melannie,
Love this song!
Thank you for your words and reminders.
Such a wonder-filled way to start the week.

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Cheryl Z June 4, 2018 at 11:20 am

Thanks so much, Sister! This song especially, was what I needed to hear today! My daughter’s in denial about her addictions and it’s so hard to sit back and let God be in control in His own time!!

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fran June 4, 2018 at 11:46 am

Thank you for reminding me that when I’m called by name it’s a relationship that wants a response from me. God calls me by name and other people call me. How do I respond? Then there are physical aches that I call by name, sometimes not so nicely! It makes me realize that all are chances for me to make a difference
in some way.

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PAM GUNN June 4, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Thank you. I so needed this today.

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John Hopkins June 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Thank you, Melannie….I’ve been around the sun 61 times — not quite a senior citizen, but don’t tell that to the occasional vendor who thinks I’m one and gives me a discount!

Your prayer for the acceptance of self and all the little aches and pains that come with age is perfect. As you were writing about it above, I couldn’t help nodding.

As my mother-in-law would say: Each year God throws another thing overboard!

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Evelyn Allen, PhD June 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Celebrated my 85th in April with family and friends. I count my blessings.
My license plate says “Everyday is a Gift”! I try to live that and be grateful.

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Joan M. June 4, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Sister Melanie,
Your meditations are always so welcome. Today’s reflection was just what I needed, and the song is one of my favorites.
God bless you, today and always!

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Patty Davidson June 4, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Thank you. You hit that nail right on its head.

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Beverly June 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Awesome…just awesome….

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Sister Julie Grote June 4, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Thanks Melanie for your inspiring and healing words. I needed them today. With a prayer, Sr. Julie

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Thomas DeFreitas June 4, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Hello, Sister Melannie and everyone. About to complete the 49th solar whirl, and I do notice a few differences between 49 and 29! (Especially in the knees.)

Gratitudes are big with me, and it’s a good day if I end it with listing a few of the thankworthies. Lately, I’ve added some components to my prayer (usually at the “Intercessions” part of the Give Us This Day booklet): a gratitude; a resolution; a hope; an intercession.

And yes, I pray for myself, often, and always for others, for this purpose using a rosary that I call the BIBs (Badly Injured Beads). Sometimes I use a CPR (cheap plastic rosary, or colourful plastic rosary)! But yes, gratitude, intercession, the whole nine.

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Fr. Ron Wagner June 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

We’re often asked to do more with less. Letting go of unrealistic expectations spoke to me. I’m weary doing more and enjoying it less. It doesn’t feel “of God”, not the God who loves me.

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anita compagnone June 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

loved this one Sister. Totally hit home, thanks for composing it so well.

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Celeste Albers June 4, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Sr. Melannie, your message touched my heart deeply today. That song, “You Are Mine” is one I play frequently at our Motherhouse when I play the organ. Each time I play it, I find something new about the words I have sung and played so many times. I also appreciated the fact that I just turned 71 this past April, and each day I try to bring light and gratitude to all those I live and work with. You are a gift to me every time I read your weekly messages. Peace!

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Odelia Kloc June 4, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Melanie,
Your reflection was meant for me. The hardest thing for me at this time in my life,75, is acceptance 0f little diminishments, which feel like big ones. That is one of my favorite songs!
Thank you,
Sr. Odelia

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Ann June 5, 2018 at 9:18 am

I will bring you home- words of comfort for me. God is bringing me with God not just taking me. Bring means with/accompany and God is with me !
I am on retreat….
Thank you, Melannie !

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Joy Zimmerman June 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

Beautiful reflection…beautiful song…thank you so much for sharing both. You are a gift.

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Diane Clay June 6, 2018 at 7:46 am

Thank you for this marvelous blessing. I am grateful for your gift of writing.

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Carol J Schrott June 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

One of my favorite songs. I struggle with the ageing process and this reflection was uplifting and reminds me to be more grateful for my 72 years of blessings.

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Tom June 7, 2018 at 4:45 pm

I find great wisdom in the saying that we tend to compare the insides of ourselves with the outsides of others. We presume that the smile that characterizes a certain person implies that they don’t have any problems or fears. We wish we could be as fortunate as they are.
Thanks for leveling the playing field for all of us in this week’s blog.

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Julie T June 10, 2018 at 7:05 pm

I think your reflections really spoke to me–had a hard day, today. The song was perfect and so well done.

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