My Prayer

 

@susanquinn had perfect timing for me with her post, “Slip Slidin’ Away” on the Main feed. (If you see a post by Susan, stop scrolling and read it. Trust me on this.)

The day of the eclipse, I was at an event I helped organize, where families were viewing the Sun as much as we could through an overcast made of cement, building STEM kits, and driving Mars rovers through an apple orchard. I was giving out rockets I made from parts left over from the days when Pratt Hobbies sold rocket kits to schools and scout groups. Everyone was having a great time, and everything I posted on social media concentrated on the good stuff that was going on (except for that damn cloud cover). What I didn’t say was that I had to leave halfway through the day. My back just couldn’t take it. I had to go home and lie down.

There was a time when I would go to a school, teach three or four science classes and help the kids build about 150 rockets, then come back a week later and help them launch ’em. I refined my kits based on the problems I saw the kids having, and by the time I was done, they were pretty good. I would go to organized rocket launches and fly some stuff for pleasure, as well as selling a few gizmos and gadgets, which I still make.

Lying there in bed, I tried to deal with the fact that those days are gone. Between the therapy that is controlling my prostate cancer and the back pain I get if I stand for more than a couple of minutes, I have said goodbye to a lot of things that were central to my life. I try not to feel sorry for myself; as I said, the cancer is controlled, and without chemo; I am way better off than many of my friends. I am blessed to live in a place that I love, with my daughter and son-in-law to take care of me and the place. I can hold down a full-time job working from home. The audiobook side hustle couldn’t be better; I am recording book #84, there are more waiting, and Abraham Lincoln: A Life has sold almost 90 copies since March 30. I am blessed, and I am grateful. But sometimes the changes are overwhelming.

When I woke up, a little poem came to me, and I wrote it down. Over the next couple of days of polishing it, I realized that it was turning into a prayer. I might be pretentious enough to call it a psalm. I have not shared it before now, even with my pastor, because it’s intensely personal, but it has comforted me. Susan’s post prompted me to share it here, as a separate member-feed-only post, to keep it among friends. (Edited: At Susan’s suggestion, I’ve allowed it to move to the main feed.)

The God of trees and waters is my God;
How can I not be joyful?
The God of conflict and challenge sends me friends;
Who shall make me afraid?
The God of nature sends cats to comfort me;
How can I not be content?
The God of foolish old men forgives my foolishness;
Can I learn to forgive myself?
The God of quarks and galaxies gives me curiosity;
How can I not study and wonder?
The God of interlocking creation reveals Himself to me through it.
How can I fear my death?
Surely it is part of His design
And the God of foolish old men
Will find a use for me.
Amen

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  1. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    “The God of trees and waters is my God;
    How can I not be joyful?
    The God of conflict and challenge sends me friends;
    Who shall make me afraid? . .”

    Amen Douglas . . .Amen.

    Beautifully said.

    • #1
  2. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

     

    Douglas Pratt:

    I might be pretentious enough to call it a psalm. I have not shared it before now, even with my pastor, because it’s intensely personal, but it has comforted me.

    I was very skeptical but I read it and think that it  is very much a psalm, and a very good one.

    I think you made the right call in publishing it, and that it would be a good call to allow it to go onto the Member Feed.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    You’ve brought tears to my eyes. Truly inspired. Thanks,  Doug.

    • #3
  4. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    You’ve brought tears to my eyes. Truly inspired. Thanks, Doug.

    Your posts have choked up this sentimental old man many times, but they are always deeper and more useful than just emotional relief. I meant what I said in the first paragraph.

    • #4
  5. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    As I have said before at a certain point, I left police work when I became too old for fence jumping contests. That is for the young. There were other markers in my life, like leaving competitive full contact hockey behind. The first things to go were the sticks, and pads. Finally, the day came to part with the skates.

    I am left with the memories, and that’s okay. One of the markers was a knee injury, and the x-ray tech asking me to turn my knee in another direction. I told him if I could do that I wouldn’t be here today.

    • #5
  6. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    The fortress of my skepticism concerning ever reading a good and true Psalm on a web forum did not fall after a long siege.

    The opening salvo blew a hole in the walls

         The God of trees and waters is my God;

              How can I not be joyful?

    and the rest of the verses simply poured through the breach virtually unopposed.

    The first line brought tears to my wife’s eyes.

    • #6
  7. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Doug

    Reviewing the 2012 launch suddenly thrusted me back to the middle 70’s with Herb Desind’s little band of rocketeers.

    Be well my friend in low troposphere adventures.

    • #7
  8. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Doug

    Reviewing the 2012 launch suddenly thrusted me back to the middle 70’s with Herb Desind’s little band of rocketeers.

    Be well my friend in low troposphere adventures.

    Herb Desind! A man with an almost magical connection to his students. Mr. Cineroc. 

    Speaking as someone who sent a dime to Vern Estes in 1960 for a “Real Flying Rockets!” catalog in 1959, it has been a joy to be part of a hobby/sport/activity that has attracted people like Herb. 

    • #8
  9. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    The fortress of my skepticism concerning ever reading a good and true Psalm on a web forum did not fall after a long siege.

    The opening salvo blew a hole in the walls

    The God of trees and waters is my God;

    How can I not be joyful?

    and the rest of the verses simply poured through the breach virtually unopposed.

    The first line brought tears to my wife’s eyes.

    Praise from the praiseworthy. Thank you for justifying my belief that I was safe in sharing it here.

    • #9
  10. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    As I have said before at a certain point, I left police work when I became too old for fence jumping contests. That is for the young. There were other markers in my life, like leaving competitive full contact hockey behind. The first things to go were the sticks, and pads. Finally, the day came to part with the skates.

    I am left with the memories, and that’s okay. One of the markers was a knee injury, and the x-ray tech asking me to turn my knee in another direction. I told him if I could do that I wouldn’t be here today.

    You know you’re still in control if you can get a good laugh out of the doctors, nurses and technicians who are working on you. One of the blessings I am most thankful for is my outstanding oncology team at the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital. They never make me feel like I’m a rusty car in for an oil change. 

    And compliments for coming off a career in honorable police work with that sense of humor intact. You and Horatio Nelson, although I hope you have all your eyes and limbs. 

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon. 

    • #11
  12. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    My husband is having similar problems with his back. You probably know about this option already, but just in case you don’t, there are spinal treatments for pain that are extraordinary. My husband had one a couple of months ago, and it helped a lot. 

    He was taking a lot of ibuprofen, which, of course, is not good for a person’s blood pressure or stomach. 

     

    • #13
  14. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    My husband is having similar problems with his back. You probably know about this option already, but just in case you don’t, there are spinal treatments for pain that are extraordinary. My husband had one a couple of months ago, and it helped a lot.

    He was taking a lot of ibuprofen, which, of course, is not good for a person’s blood pressure or stomach.

     

    Fortunately mine is not in my spine. I got some compression fracturing there, but it has largely healed, and it’s encouraging to know I can still heal. My problem is a spot on a rib where I believe I have nerve damage. It’s a stabbing pain. I was being flippant about the ibuprofen; I have a very good palliative care doctor who has helped me work out a schedule of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and an occasional oxycodone for bad days. All in relatively small doses so I’m not worried about getting habituated to the oxy, but if I get off schedule, boy do I feel it. 

    I’m glad to hear that your husband has been having some success. Back pain sucks  inhales vigorously. When I blew out my back five years ago I became an instant old man. That’s part of why the situation is so annoying; it didn’t sneak up on me. 

    • #14
  15. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    My husband is having similar problems with his back. You probably know about this option already, but just in case you don’t, there are spinal treatments for pain that are extraordinary. My husband had one a couple of months ago, and it helped a lot.

    He was taking a lot of ibuprofen, which, of course, is not good for a person’s blood pressure or stomach.

     

    Fortunately mine is not in my spine. I got some compression fracturing there, but it has largely healed, and it’s encouraging to know I can still heal. My problem is a spot on a rib where I believe I have nerve damage. It’s a stabbing pain. I was being flippant about the ibuprofen; I have a very good palliative care doctor who has helped me work out a schedule of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and an occasional oxycodone for bad days. All in relatively small doses so I’m not worried about getting habituated to the oxy, but if I get off schedule, boy do I feel it.

    I’m glad to hear that your husband has been having some success. Back pain sucks inhales vigorously. When I blew out my back five years ago I became an instant old man. That’s part of why the situation is so annoying; it didn’t sneak up on me.

    Gave it a like because you still have your sense of humor. Not because you blew out your back. Didn’t want anyone to misunderstand.

    • #15
  16. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    A true master of the English language. You are in our prayers.

    • #16
  17. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Chowderhead (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    A true master of the English language. You are in our prayers.

    Thank you; thar means a lot to me.

    I consider myself more of an acolyte than a master. The English language has a huge store of words, synonyms and near-synonyms with shades and nuances of meaning. A craftsman can choose words that fit the meaning and structure he intends.  That’s why most poetry and literature is written in English. 

    • #17
  18. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Chowderhead (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    A beautiful prayer. I hope you feel better soon.

    Thank you, ma’am. I’m coping with the daily routine, it just involves a lot of sitting…and taking ibuprofen the way a chicken takes corn.

    A true master of the English language. You are in our prayers.

    Oh, and BTW… I stole the line about chickens and corn from a true master of the language, Rex Stout writing as Archie Goodwin. (The actual quote was about aspirin.) 

    • #18
  19. Dave L Member
    Dave L
    @DaveL

    Beautiful Douglas, thank you for sharing!

    • #19
  20. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):
    Oh, and BTW… I stole the line about chickens and corn from a true master of the language, Rex Stout writing as Archie Goodwin. (The actual quote was about aspirin.) 

    Well, it was original to me. Now I’m going to steal it.

     

    • #20
  21. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Chowderhead (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):
    Oh, and BTW… I stole the line about chickens and corn from a true master of the language, Rex Stout writing as Archie Goodwin. (The actual quote was about aspirin.)

    Well, it was original to me. Now I’m going to steal it.

     

    Good. Good writers steal only from the best.

    • #21
  22. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Douglas Pratt: The God of trees and waters is my God;
    How can I not be joyful?

    Doug, thank you for this beautiful piece of writing and I must agree with those who said it was, indeed, a psalm. Today  the Psalm was 23 and I heard echos of your poem in those magnificent words of the Psalmist. So inspirational! As you and I share the “gift” of “advanced years”, a euphemism I love more and more with each passing year, I could really feel for your back pain as that is what I live with each and every day so I trulyl hope you find some way to get relief from that debilitating pain. In the practice I heard, almost on a daily basis, clients say of their condition they had “good days and bad days” and I thought how sad it must be to be old and in such pain most of the time. Now that phrase describes yours truly a good deal of the time, sad to say. I also genuinely hope you get releif from the prostate cancer, a condition my doctor tells me close to 100% of the folks lucky enough to reach “advanced age” suffer from. May I also say I so enjoyed reading of your obviously fascinating life story– that old phrase fits you to a T– you have really lived a full life, to put it mildly. 

    Here’s a story about how the first words of your Psalm hit home with me. Before I saw those beautiful words I took my puppy and second best pal for a long walk in the woods adjacent to our (relatively) new home in the Florida Panhandle. While there we (I!) took advantage of a new bench the county had just installed on the bank of the largest pond in those woods, the Soundside Nature Preserve, bordering on Santa Rosa sound across from Pensacola Beach. It was such a peaceful and tranquil scene I decided to try my hand at my only-recently-acquired ability to take videos on my iPhone. When I got home from the walk, I saw your poem and it occurred to me that I have just been with “the God of trees and waters” and, thinking like the lawyer I have been most of my life, thought that I have the video to prove it! Here is the video and I send it with my very best wishes for your full and speedy recovery from your pain and that you will continue to be blessed by the God of trees and water. 

    All the best, Jim. 

    • #22
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