Litany for Surgery

It’s only a tonsillectomy. In all likelihood, our little gal be bouncing around asking for ice cream within a few days. But…. THEY ARE TAKING MY BABY, PUMPING HER FULL OF CHEMICALS AND CUTTING HER WITH SHARP OBJECTS.

My monkey mind is having a heyday with this. Or it could if I let it. Because I know for certain when she gets out she will be feeling the worst pain she’s ever felt. And she will be feeling this pain because her Papa and I have willingly and consciously made the decision to allow her to feel this pain. We’ve made this decision for good reasons that we believe will benefit her and our family going forward, but that doesn’t change the fact of our child’s pain, the fact of what walking through the next 48 hours will be like. She will cry. I know that her pain will stress me out and make me cry too.

Fortunately I’ve been practicing the trick of stepping back from the monkey mind. Giving it a look from a distance. Perhaps chuckling at it a bit and nudging it lovingly. I’m only beginning to learn this skill, but wow is it helpful when I can remember it.

Peace, be still, Mama.

Hey, Mamas and Papas who have walked your babies down cold corridors, kissed them at O.R. doors, and relinquished them into the hands of mostly strangers. You who have done this many times because of accident, chronic illness, or ongoing medical issues. You who have spent countless hours in waiting rooms, drunk countless cups of awful coffee, and glanced up eagerly every time the door opened, a hundred times, in hopes that it’s over and the report is good. You. I see you now.

(This litany is not just for parents. I'm hopeful that this prayer can be helpful to most anyone going into a surgery or medical procedure.)
 

God, it’s into your hands that we send our Loved One*
She* was only ever there all along.
We breathe in the peace of your presence:
     Your presence with her as she sleeps
     Your presence with us as we wait.

Be present to those caring for her while we are apart.
Let the peace of your presence come to them as well.
Let your lovingkindness fill their hearts,
     Calm and focus their minds
     Steady their hands.

Let no evil befall them or our Loved One.
May each body system come to perfect harmony.
May each wound inflicted bring health and healing behind it:
     As by Christ’s wounds we are healed,
     So now, we ask for healing wounds.

Make us awake to our blessings,
Things we take for granted,
Things many people throughout the world don’t have:
     Sanitation, education, access, options, medicines and therapies.
     Hope, provision, support, community, nourishment.

May we care for her with compassion and patience while she recovers.
We know that in the midst of pain, you bring growth and goodness.
May we be strengthened and tireless as we offer help:
     Each word echoing the mercy of Christ
     Each action formed and informed by love.

Amen
 

*Substitute the name of the individual here
*Replace gender-specific pronouns as needed

Little Litanies: Psalm 23

I’m teaching my five-year-old this version of Psalm 23 that I wrote/mashed up. It’s a mix of influences from the NIV and the MSG, and some simplifications of my own invention. I wanted to create a version that a very young child can connect with, but that retains some of the beauty and imagery of the original and can serve as a touchstone prayer for comfort and encouragement and a reminder of the loving presence of God. I also wanted it to be accessible to a kid who is not being raised in an agrarian society, and for whom metaphors are not yet obvious (1).


God, you’re my shepherd.
I am your sheep.(2)
You give me everything I need.

You let me rest in green meadows
And drink from peaceful waters.
You refresh my soul.
You guide me so that I can honor you.

Even if I’m in a dark, scary place,
I’m not afraid because you are with me.
You comfort and encourage me.

You prepare a party for me,
And ask me to invite my enemies. (3)
You put oil on my head. (4)
My blessings are overflowing.

My whole life is full of your beauty and love,
And my home is with you. (5)

Amen

 

  1. For instance, just recently I had drawn a picture of a cucumber wearing a t-shirt that said “Eat me” and put it in her lunchbox. Her response: “Why did you give me a picture of a cucumber with no pants!?!...<a pause for consideration>...OOOooh, because you put cucumbers in my lunch and you wanted me to eat them!”

  2. This line is not in the original Psalm. I added it, again because the metaphor is not obvious to a digital-age five-year-old.

  3. Yep, I’m taking a liberty here. I’m mixing in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:44). I used to think this line was about gloating. Now I think it’s about inviting.

  4. My kid is familiar with this concept, because I anoint her head with essential oils regularly.

  5. These two lines are much like Eugene Peterson’s in the MSG.



     

Litany for Kindergarten

Oh God, ever-present and ever-loving
Be near to our little ones
As they venture out
Into the wide world.

May their first steps be confident,
Their first interactions pleasant,
Their first impressions positive,
Their first lessons lasting.

We have tried to raise them well, to teach them to be
     Smart,
     Kind,
     Generous,
     Brave, and
     Strong;
And to instill in them their belovedness
     By you
     And by us.

Bless us with wisdom to parent them well in this new season,
Neither hovering nor disconnected;
Attuned, but acknowledging and encouraging their emerging selves;
Gentle, caring, and patient always.

We ask you to bless and keep them
To protect them from harm
To keep them from temptation,
And rescue them from evil.

Be a friend to them, present and accessible.

We entrust them to you in the hours that they are out of our care,
The same as we entrust them to you when they are with us.
Again and again, we entrust them to you.
Their whole lives long and beyond, we entrust them to you.

Amen


 

Litany for Rest and Balance

Because I am a thirty-something mom whose main daily job is to take care of two small people, I end up talking to a lot of other thirty-something moms in a similar grind. The refrain I hear over and over again is: "I need rest. I need balance." We are all trying to figure out how to balance our responsibilities to our families, our household responsibilities, our relationship needs and responsibilities, our community responsibilities, our career responsibilities, and still find time for some self-actualization, soul care, and body care in the midst of it. It's tricky. I realize it's not just moms who are preoccupied with this problem either, nor is it just parents. I predict that this won't be the last prayer I write about rest and balance, but here it is, the first.
 

God, we hear your invitation to us:
“Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened. I will give you rest.”

We acknowledge our souls’ need for rest and quiet nourishment.
We lay down our burdens.
We acknowledge our souls’ need of connection with You.
We turn our intentions toward You now.

We confess our tendency to overlook rest as a necessary part of soul and self care.
We confess our pride in thinking that our work is so important that we may not set it down.
We confess our readiness to believe that what we do determines our worth.
We confess our obsession with productivity, results, measurable progress.
We confess our neglect of the good soil of our souls.
We confess our tendency to forget that it is in You that we live and move and have our being
   and that Your love is better than life.

We ask now for body, mind, spirit, whole-person nourishment.
  For rest and resurrection,
  For new life,
  For healing and consolation of our souls.
We ask for help managing our time and activities so that our
  In-fillings
  Keep up with our
  out-pourings.

Where we have overspent ourselves
Refresh us.
Where we have misplaced our priorities
Re-arrange us.
Where we have said yes when we should have said no
Remind us.

We thank You for meaningful work; for blessings and burdens.
We thank You for rest.
May we become present to our great need for
Daily bread: the presence of Christ in our lives.

Amen