My granddaughter Anna prays. And she prays like I wish we could all pray – unabashedly, joyfully and out loud! Of course most 3-1/2 year olds don’t have much inhibition. They’re still too young to be controlled by peer pressure. So I suppose that announcing loudly that she “needs to go potty” or pointing out someone’s obvious physical flaw falls into the same category as public prayer – there’s nothing wrong with it. Time will tell. Hopefully she will learn that some public comment should remain private but I hope that she never loses her zeal for prayer.
Last week we had lunch at one of her favorite places, Chik-fil-A® and before eating she began singing loudly:
“Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus; For our food, for our food; And our many blessings, and our many blessings; We love You, we love You!” to the tune of ‘Frere Jacque’, complete with hand gestures. Amen!
Some passersby smiled. Some seemed puzzled. Some seemed genuinely touched by her prayer. Of course I had previously witnessed her new meal prayer ritual and was thrilled that she would sing out in public. God bless her parents and her preschool teacher for teaching her to love Jesus.
One evening last month I was asked to lead the Rosary at our parish. For those of you that don’t know, the Rosary is an ancient prayer of our church that dates back over a thousand years. The Rosary beads are used to mark prayers said in repetition while meditating on the mysteries of Jesus’ life on earth. I used to think that the Rosary was just for the blue-haired old ladies of our parish but I’ve come to honor the tradition that it represents and respect those that have gone before me in their devotion to Mary and the Saints. My Aunt Minnie must be smiling down from heaven.
Anna’s parents, Bess and Travis, had gone out to celebrate their anniversary the evening that I was to lead Rosary and Deb and I had Anna and baby brother Noah for the evening. I decided to take Anna with me. Not certain if she could stand still for the 20 minutes or so that it would take to pray at the grotto, I asked the Holy Spirit to look down on her and be with her. I needn’t bother – Jesus held her up for all of us there to witness.
Although she got a little wiggly at times, she stood beside me with her own little rosary and prayed along. At times I lost my place because I could hear Anna’s tiny voice praying, “Hail Mary, full of grace…” But somehow it only made our prayer gathering that much more meaningful for me. This wasn’t something rehearsed or practiced – this was just pure joy.
At the conclusion of prayer I thanked the small gathering for their patience with us and apologized for whatever distraction Anna might have caused. I was assured by everyone that Anna had made the prayer especially beautiful. I was told by one person that he was quite certain that Mary’s statue could be seen smiling. I don’t think that plaster can smile but I know that I was beaming!
Pray on, Anna, pray on! Pawpaw’s learning to do the same.