Friday, December 10, 2004

Now I lay me down to sleep...

...I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

This prayer that I sang every night before bed as a child recently popped up in my mind once again. It's a cute prayer, but what a strange one for a little child to sing right before bed! Nothing like reminding a child of her own mortality right before being left alone in a dark room for the whole night. My best friend and her dad always sang a similar prayer, though a little more 'comforting.' Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Shepherd guide me through the night and keep me safe till morning's light. I never really liked one prayer above the other, I was probably quite ambivalent and didn't actually realize that when I prayed every night, I was talking about death.
Now this isn't to say that I think it's a bad prayer. I'm just saying that it's strange to remind a child every night that she might die that night. But then I got to thinking: it's not such a bad thing to be reminded of your mortality every night. When did I stop praying that if I die, could I please be with God? (And I'm not even going to bother trying to defend the body/soul dichotemy that this prayer suggests) As soon as my prayers became more "adult," they were filled with requests of blessings for myself, my family, pleas for help on tests, for snow days... Gone was any thought of dying in the night or even day, for that matter. God will protect me and I'll live forever. That's the thought pattern that most of us live with now. Would it hurt to pray the simple prayer above more often as adults? Just because God loves us and is with us and protects us doesn't mean that ill will never befall us. I think that I need to remind myself a little more often that the fact that I'm not a little five year old girl anymore does not mean that in the grand scheme of things, I'm still as helpless and just as in need of holding God's hand as I was then.

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