Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Small Things that Have No Words

This is the 5th blog I've started since April.  If you're reading it, well, I actually finished it. I hope you're reading it because I'm getting tired of me and my apparent inability to finish anything I start writing.

  I found my raggedy old Golden Book of Prayer's for Children the other day.   It's missing the covers, some of the pages, and is well embellished with my five year old's artwork.  (I loved to draw angels.)

But I found the page with my favorite prayer, which is by that prolific writer anonymous.

Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds,
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words.

Small things that have no words. Even at five I knew the world overflowed with small things that had no words.  Kittens, especially kittens in the rain, babies like my brother who could only cry which hardly counted as words, the mice no one wanted, stray dogs...the world was full even then.

"Thy beasts and singing birds." Well, there was never a shortage of (ant covered) dead birds lying around and we killed animals for our dinners.  The chickens that came from the store in those days looked like chickens and had eggs inside them.  Pickled pigs feet were a dead giveaway on their origin.

I didn't put it into words exactly, well-raised little Christian girl that I was, but I had the strong sense that  Father was a bit behind in his work.  It was with an aching hope but very little optimism I said my prayer.

Time has passed.  I'm 59 years over the age of five.  I've learned enough to know that if the grass hurts when I walk on it, there's nothing I can do. Kittens die in the rain, at the hands of budding serial killers, and at the pound--and there's nothing I can do about it and I can't adopt them all.  There's always a poet dying down the road and there's always a lovely young body having a pint of pus removed (J.D. Salinger).  Someone's celebrating a victory and someone's child just got blown into a puzzle that can never be put back together again.

There's love of course which puts our broken pieces back together again and again. Which gives us hope in this world which is so notably lacking in tenderness.

But my prayer gave me another gift, one which has never tarnished and has given broken wings to grief and flamed this world with beauty.


The rhythm, the beat: Dear father hear and bless. Ta dum, ta dum, ta dum.

Thy beasts and singing birds.  Not animals, BEASTS.  Beasts and singing birds.

What words can do.

Guard with tenderness small things that have no words.  Small things that have no words....

Small things without words are given a voice.  There may be no tenderness for these small things but the prayer gives them a voice, gives the frail wishes of our hearts a shape and a being.

Words can be powerful

The world lacks tenderness and small things hurt and die.  But with words we can hope, we can imagine, we can be entranced with beauty, seduce and be seduced by.


We may fail words but words do not really fail us.

Small things that have no words.

But we do.

Amen. Amen.


  1. I do not like the choices of "funny, interesting or cool" that your blog gives me in its rating system. Those words fail to do you and your words justice.

    I'm touched by the message of hope and love in this blog entry. Thanks, Gwen.


  2. Ditto Mary's comment. I would like a Beautiful option.

  3. This is really good.