matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, February 5, 2014
All I Need is—Love?
As I got ready to settle down for my time of prayer and meditation this morning, I couldn’t find the book on prayer I intended to use for my prayer time. I had a specific person and burden on my mind, and I wanted that particular book! Alas, I could not find it. However, I do have several others. (Ha.) Anyone looking at my bookshelf on prayer and meditation would see at least two dozen books. I nipped over to the bookshelf. Handy, having several bookcases in the bedroom. I perused the shelf on prayer, and I grabbed a book that I had not read thoroughly before.
This book was given to me as a Christmas present from a good friend, several years ago: The World According to Mister Rogers – Important Things to Remember. It’s not a “proper” book, but instead a selection of short readings by Mister Rogers, loosely grouped together in sections. I knew that Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister. He had attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary before he became so well-known and beloved, as he dedicated his life to serving and helping children through public television.
I turned to the section on Understanding Love. Amazing thing: the first page I turned to was a page that happened to hold some meaningful insights into the burden I had in mind. I read the vignette from Fred Rogers’s life. He was visiting a woman in the hospital who had received a terminal diagnosis for recurring cancer. This was not just any woman, but a preeminent teacher of doctors and psychiatrists, and a consultant to professionals world-wide. She had a thorough knowledge of the development of human beings. Fred came to see her in the hospital, where she was quite weak and frail, but still fully awake and aware.
I quote from Fred Rogers: “Some of the time I just held her hand and we said nothing. We didn’t have to. After one of those silences, Helen said to me, “Do you ever pray for people, Fred?” “Of course I do.” So I said, “Dear God, encircle us with Thy love wherever we may be.” And Helen replied, “That’s what it is, isn’t it? —it’s love. That’s what it’s all about.”
At the end of the day, the summation of a brilliant woman who had spent her life studying the intricacies and complexities of human development was love. Love is what it’s all about.
Accordingly, I prayed for God’s love to encircle each of my children. I prayed for them individually, and together. I prayed for God’s love to encircle my husband, and I made special mention of his health (a common, garden-variety cold, but still). And, I prayed for God’s love to encircle me. I could vividly feel God’s arms of care and concern round about me, too. A stunning experience of prayer. And of the love of God.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for turning me towards this book of Mister Rogers. Thank You for this awesome, welcoming experience of prayer. God, I pray for my children and my friends, my family and my acquaintances, that each of them might feel encircled by Your love. Wherever each of us may be on our separate journeys. I pray that especially for each one reading these words—may each one feel encircled by You. God, You know our experiences, our trials, our joys. Thank You for Your everlasting arms of love. In Your grace, mercy, and love, amen.