What’s in a Prayer?


(The Annunciation, by George Hitchcock, 1887)

Today, as I write this, my brother-in-law way across this country in Oregon (some 2,500 miles from central Ohio) is having surgery on his heart.  Doctors do this kind of thing regularly, but still!  I’m thinking of him and my sister and wishing I would have called her more often.  “But what’s a poor boy to do?” as Mick has sung (“with the same old rock’n roll band…”).  I’m way over here in Ohio, and always working on this darn blog.

My other sister, Marty, who drew the logo for NatieRel, she started talking last night — not coincidentally — about how to say “The Hail Mary”.  She hadn’t done it in ages and forgot its words.  Both of us being rather thoroughly Catholicized in our youth, she asked me.  No problem.  It is the words by which the Angel Gabriel addressed Mary when informing her she would be “the mother of God.” The Annunciation.  In fact, a Blessed Virgin Mary, or the BVM as she is sometimes humorously and sacrilegiously referred to.

Hail, Mary!  Full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among woman, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Amen.

I used to be able to crank those out, ten at a time, but now I cannot bring myself to do a single one.

Yet, I feel the need to do something; to express something, to help, from way over here in Ohio.

I came across this poem a number of years ago.  It is about Prayer and kind of a prayer itself:  The Divine Image by William Blake, written in about 1789.

Before you read it, I must warn you that in the second stanza pronounce “DEAR” with an accent to be like DARE, then it will rhyme with “care”.  In stanza three, pronounce “DRESS” with an accent to be like ‘drace’ so that it rhymes with “FACE”.   To excuse the last stanza, I think we need to realize that in 1800, much of the world was alien and mysterious to Europeans.  Jewish people were always ostracized in Europe and thought of with great bias, similar to what they thought of “heathens” and “Turks”.  But note, here, all the above are in possession of “the human form divine”.

Importantly, God and Humans are equated through the mediation of Four Virtues: Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, says Blake.  These virtues are as much human as divine.  Humans acting in accord with these virtues, as much as ‘God’, are the thing we pray to when in “Distress”, says the great poet.

The Divine Image


To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress:
And to these virtues
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear.
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew,
Where Mercy, Pity, Peace dwell
There God is dwelling too.



Nice poem!  Deep.  When I am in distress, I have developed a little routine where I start with my thumb at the tip of my forefinger and say “To Mercy”, then to the tip of the next finger and say “To Pity“, then…”To Peace”, and finally at my little finger, “To Love.”  The next round is simpler: “To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love” moving through my fingers.  Silly of me, to like that finger part, I think of it like closing a circuit: Letting the “Positive Energy” flow.

Energy flowing here at the naturereligionconnection!

HANG TOUGH, BRO.  WE ARE THINKING OF YOU !  You too, sis!  Love ya. 
P.S. By the time I published this and then revised it and published it again (with a fair amount of stuff in between), I had received word that the surgery was about over and was going very well!

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