Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Prayer for Children

This is a poem by Ina Hughes that my mother printed and framed for me for Christmas this year. It meant so much that she shared this poem with me that she often read to teachers, staff and parents when she worked as an educator. It makes me think of the many blessings my own children have and also of the many children I have known, especially in Cameroon, and the few I know now who fall in the second group. It reminds me not only to pray, but to be one of the ones who, by God's grace, offers a hand.

We pray for children
who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak Popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who've never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers,
who never "counted potoatoes,"
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children

who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-aids and sing off key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those

who never get dessert,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store
and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed
and never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the car pool,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those

whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to be hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children

who want to be carried,
and for those who must.
For those we never give up on,
and for those who don't get a chance.
For those we smother,
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
kind enough to offer.

No comments: