I am not great at praying. I find it difficult to totally quiet my mind and, especially with prayers I know by rote, find myself prone to wandering thoughts. In all honesty, I can’t say the daily prayer circle I have sustained with my sister and mother since the dawn of this pandemic has afforded much correction in this department. It is still a daily struggle to completely hoist myself into an appropriately prayerful and receptive mindset. There are mornings where I must make multiple attempts at the prayer, unsatisfied with those previous. It is often easier for me to just talk to God — which I know to be its own kind of prayer — or to find that centered mindset when I am in a Church or, better yet, looking out across the majestic Rockies, or on a remote monastery nestled in their alpine embrace. My home, by contrast, especially in the morning, is a den of distraction. Chores, children, coffee, the crash of Duplos, the surging desire to get the day going, the imminence of our must-get-out-the-door-to-get-to-school-on-time deadline vie for my attention.
I wondered the other day whether my contextual preferences around prayer — these conditions that enable me to “pray on my own terms” — are in their own way a selfishness, or a symptom of lassitude? Rare, after all, to find perfect conditions for any undertaking–a subject of recent discussion with Mr. Magpie as we burn our way through the Netflix series “Queen’s Gambit.” We were both struck, in episode three or four, by the interplay of the game’s rules; the player’s agendas, skillsets, and preferences; and the various “extra-curricular” interruptions that, together, mean that much of chess is played off the board. A similar lesson emerges from Mr. Magpie’s disciplined culinary maneuverings in the kitchen: the recipe is merely a fraction of the battle. Then you have ingredients, measurements, skill, quality of cookware, temperature (both ambient and in oven) to contend with. A good cook (like Mr. Magpie) agonizes over the specifics: “what qualifies as a small onion?” “but does he mean a mince, a dice, or a rough chop?” “should the protein be brought to room temperature prior to being placed into the pan?” “my oven runs cool — how to adjust for that?” Etc, etc, etc. In short, being technically good at anything requires constant renegotiation with often unanticipated realities.
So though I do try to pray with some measure of mindfulness, I must try harder. In the meantime, one beneficence of my spotty prayerfulness is that some days, the words of the prayer positively leap off the page at me in a way they did not just 24 hours prior. And I am jarred — in a good way — by that radiance.
I prayed these exact words every morning for nine days straight —
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
— and on the ninth, something clicked, profoundly.
Thought I’d leave those words here for you if you need them today.
+The picture at the top of this post reminds me so much of my First Communion, which I wrote a little bit about here.
+A beautiful sentiment for the Advent season.
+We’re coming down to the wire on Christmas gifts, but this set of name crayons ships quickly and is such a sweet personalized gift for a little one.
+Now this is a dress.
+LSF just launched the most perfect grandmillennial towels. Eat your heart out, Laura Ashley.
+I’ve mentioned these in posts past, but these Yumbox snack boxes (also available in a full lunchbox size) are truly an excellent little investment for your child. They are leak proof, have just the right sized compartments, and mini for some reason loves it — I think it just makes lunch more fun for her somehow.
+J’adore these cards!
+WOW – this sweater!
+This velvet dress is gorgeous, and on sale.
+Speaking of velvet magic — this top is only $22.
+This sweater, in the white!!!! On sale for well under $100 and the perfect way to pack a style punch with minimal effort.
+A couple of star-print Native shoes still left on sale here! Perfect for next summer (FOJ!)
+Did anyone else’s husband freak out over the baseball mitt chair in the boy’s room in the HBO show The Undoing? Mr. Magpie commented on it no less than five times. I found one like it here. Now on my lust list for micro’s big boy room…
+Big girl room inspo here.