My grandmother lived to be 99. She lived in her own apartment until three months before she died. Every time my sister, Claire, and I would visit, we would see quotes and wise sayings stuck up with scotch tape all over the apartment. When she died, my mother took many of the quotes and put them inside cupboards and in drawers. When Mom died, I took a few of them home. One was a scrap of newspaper stuck to a piece of cardboard. It was obvious that there was another half. I stuck it up on the refrigerator with every intention of finding the other half some day. Years passed.
Yesterday for no good reason I brought the poem (or the half I had) up to the computer and typed in the first line “Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old” And up popped “An Anonymous Prayer” written in the 17th Century. As I read through it I knew it was meant for me today, tomorrow and for lots of days to come. Here it is! See what you think.
A 17th Century Nun’s Prayer.
Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.