In the evening as a young lad with face freshly scrubbed, hair combed and teeth brushed, dressed in pajama top and bottoms I would kneel on the braided rug beside my bed with hands clasped, arms resting lightly on the mattress edge. My father, hands in pockets would stand in the doorway to my room, saying nothing, silently observing, a silhouette in the hallway.
In the evening as a young lad I would confront my death, as I was kneeling saying prayers. Death could strike me any night as I lay there in my bed. I thought if I had to die it was probably far better for it to happen while I was tucked between clean sheets under a comforting blanket than to be trampled by a herd of stampeding cattle on a dusty trail or be savaged by an angry bear in a remote wilderness or to be swept into an immense whirlpool while crossing a stormy sea. I was not afraid of death at night, because fast asleep I’d be, and would not even know.
In the evening as a young lad I would recite my bedtime prayer. At the end of this short verse I would pause and take a breath. Then I would say the extra line that was added after, a request of holy grace. Comforted, I then would know if I should die that night, all the other people that I loved would be free to go on living and they would remember me, tell stories and say “he was good boy”.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
and if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
God bless mother and father and sister and brother and my dog Sparky and aunt Sally and aunt Virginia and my teacher Mrs. Wooten…..
and Gneiss Moon
and Southwest Desert Lover
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