Learning to Pray…Again When I was a child I prayed like a parrot, a hatchling swallowing the food from its mother’s beak. But I am not a parrot. And if I were, I wouldn’t spend my time repeating everything I heard. I would quietly preen my emerald feathers and fly away to a rain forest in the mountains of Costa Rica where I would hear only waterfalls and the raucous caw caw caw of my own kind. And what sounds like random noises would be my prayers uttered from a perch high in the trees because I would be closer to God’s ear there and wouldn’t have to squawk so loudly to be heard. No, I am not a parrot. And I am not a child. And the prayers that spring to my lips are not the words inscribed in the Baltimore Catechism, or memorized in Sunday School half a century ago. But I trust God hears them. So I kneel beside the bed once more and press my forehead to the cool sheet and beg, Lord help us.
Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List (New York Quarterly Books) and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers, and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions). Her work has appeared in over 100 journals including Chautauqua, Presence, Dappled Things, Braided Way, and Magma. She leads workshops on poetry as a spiritual practice.