Prayers, sacred and otherwise.

by unfinishedthinking

Hal Tench just sent me the best email I’ve received this year.  This is it in its entirety:

Are you dead yet?

Not everyone can get to the heart of a question the way Hal can.  (It was tempting to  let Ginny send him a sad follow-up telling him I’d just passed away;  I  bet we could have made him feel bad for a minute or two.)

Hal’s note serves as good contrast to something I’m seeing a lot of these days–very kind almost sweet messages from men.  I’m not talking here about the nice notes people send a dying man.  I’m talking about very enchanting but real expressions of meaningful feelings in the course of everyday life.  The kind of messages we usually associate with. . .women.  The notes aren’t sentimental, but they don’t conspicuously avoid sentimentality the way men often do.  (“How ‘bout ‘dem Bulls!”  or “Are you dead yet?”)  I hope to share some of those with you in the weeks ahead.  Of course, I’ll consider it a success if I’m just alive in the weeks ahead.

Here’s the first example.  These are the words Jeff Goodby said before his family’s holiday dinner on Thursday:

Not everyone has this.  Not everyone has a family that thinks about each other and shares and cares. 

Okay, and eats too much.

To have a family like this is to care about something outside yourself, beyond yourself. 

The family cares about you when you might not feel worth caring about.  The family is hopeful when you are not.  The family is patient when you are not.  The family forgives when you don’t feel all that forgiving yourself.  The family laughs, when you don’t really feel like laughing. 

The family is bigger than you are.  It was here before you were and it will be here after you’re gone. 

In that way, it is a holy thing.  And we are in the midst of it today. 

 We are very lucky. 

You don’t have to be religious to get behind that kind of prayer, to sense its sacredness.  I’m thankful Jeff shared it with me and let me share it with you.


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