Prayer is universal. It is a legacy handed down by the generations ever since Eve first had her trouble with the apple.

Public prayers abound and are oft times recorded, recalled, and savoured.

And then there is another prayer. Private prayer.

Private prayer is deeply intimate, totally honest, and never ceasing. Evolved from the innocent and trusting prayer of childhood—“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”—it has distilled over time into two useful petitions. These invocations are concise. They are complete. They are trustworthy.

The first prayer is unadorned: help.

The second petition is as succinct: thanks.

Both fervent pleas are near equally balanced in use and hope of an answer, even though at times the scales seem to tip a tad more in one direction than the other.

These two prayers have carried me through the rigours of children and cancer, through heart attacks and broken days. They have unknotted my soul in decades of worry or concern. They are my companions in deepest valleys and to soaring mountain tops, a bulwark in my existence.

These supplications have been a constant on my lips in the rhythm of life’s milestones met and now left to memory. My prayers at the end of life will undoubtedly reiterate themselves of their own volition.

My last gasp of inhalation will still be a need: help.

My last exhaled breath will be a song: thanks.

Lava Beds Falls

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On another note, it would neither be seemly nor proper to use this blog space as a bully pulpit.

But since my awesome director has not expressly forbidden such (and because I know she deeply loves me, seriously respects me, and fervently hopes to inherit the Alaskan musk ox mixing bowl), I want to give you a heads up on a book I am currently reading. It is an estimable piece of writing that should be recommended reading for the populace and required for everyone in fund-raising positions. It is that creditable.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a powerful meditation on the author’s four decades of living and dying. Read it in one sitting if you can, ignoring the few words you do not comprehend and the medical procedures beyond your ken. Then reread it thoughtfully and appreciatively from prologue to epilogue with a sense of wonder, joy, and gratitude.

Get your copy of this amazing book from your local library. Borrow it from a friend. Order it online. But do read it. Its premise will be in your brain forever.

If this piques your curiosity, watch for the next edition of Legacy Conversations where we will share Julia & Dave’s views on When Breath Becomes Air.

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