As I was looking through some old files...

I found an article my parents shared with me years ago from the Baton Rouge “Sunday Advocate.”The article was written by one of my father’s best friends, Dr. Charles Prosser, who died back in 2005. It caught my attention because Dr. Prosser was a graduate of Tulane Medical School and here we are right across the street. Dad and I both respected Dr. Prosser a great deal. For years, he wrote a regular piece entitled “Doctor’s Journal” in the Baton Rouge newspaper. In this column, Dr. Prosser quoted a prayer attributed to a 16thcentury nun. Whether we lived in the 1500’s, or now in 2021, this prayer speaks to us.

This prayer is geared more for those of us who are now, or who will soon become, senior adults. And when I think of healthy, senior adults, Edith Cole comes to mind. Edith was a member of the PNC that called me to be Pastor of Newnan Presbyterian Church in 1984. She was bright, active, winsome and a wonderful baker. In fact, she baked a loaf of her delicious bread for every, single new member! I learned so much about “hospitality” from her. And Madeline and I commented many times that we want to age “like Edith Cole!”

Though this prayer is clearly written more for seniors, it can also offer wisdom for young and middle-aged folks to age in healthy ways.

“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 that I must say something
on every subject on every occasion.
Release me from the 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 the love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the time goes 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 lessening cocksureness when my memory seems
to clash with the memory 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. Amen. “

(“Sunday Advocate,” December 23, 2001)