What I Pray For


Today’s Lenten poem from Education for Justice is by Dennis O’Donnell

What I Pray For

Sacks of rocks
I have gathered from the beach,
some of which I used to toss
my own I Ching, stones representing
fire, water, wind, and the rest,
some of them with strange,
man-like markings, like circles,
probably formed by little pools of sea water,
dried by the sun, leaving behind
a round stain of salt.

Stacks of poems, sacks of rocks,
milk crates full of books
full of baloney:
I can’t let them go, not yet,
but I lie in bed and plead with God
to empty out my past, all of it,
at least all of the bad,
set me free, flush out
all the shame and rage and heartache,
but please, not the finger-paints,
not baseball and my best friends.

Deal, He says,
but all the rocks must go.
No tarot cards, and no metaphysical bull.
Fine, I say.

I have a look at my bookcase.
I see Rumi, Suzuki, Lao Tzu,
and two Bibles. So:
who will throw the first stone?

Source: “What I Pray For” by Dennis O’Donnell from America Magazine, Vol.
190 No. 6 (2/23/2004).

2 Comments on “What I Pray For

    • I apologize for not getting back to your comment sooner, Ruth.

      For me, this poem reminds me of the tendency to get stuck in the past – the way things were – the cherished moments that can be treasured to the degree that nothing new can take their place. Perhaps it’s an experience of God that I fixate on, so as not to allow God to be God and manifest differently in my life. In order to see and to grasp the new and surprising, I sometimes need to let go of old ideas so that the new can sneak in.

      Thank you for coming by OPreach. Blessings to you!! Pat

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