Every head was bowed

A reader of yesterday’s “On the Ship and on the Train” left a comment. The post featured this photograph of my father and his Army Air Force unit on board ship on the high seas on their way to Saipan in World War II.

My father, the Chaplain, on board ship to Saipan, WW!!.

My father, the Chaplain, on board ship to Saipan, WW!!.

Karin wrote:

“I clicked on the picture which made it large enough to fill my screen… I was amazed. Every man’s head was bowed. That brought a realization that they all knew what they were headed towards. Profound.”

My father was the Chaplain leading the prayer. Indeed, EVERY HEAD WAS BOWED.

Prayer came naturally to him. My brothers and I were blessed by his prayers every night at the dinner table. His head would bow. My mother’s head would bow. Our heads would bowed. There was a short, reverent silence – a time for centering, as we would call it today – followed by words. He addressed the Divine as “Thou”, not the familiar “you”. Antiquarian by contemporary standards, there was never any question that the “Thees” and “Thous” were not spoken to another one of us.

A remnant of his prayers – a sample of the kind of prayer by which he led the soldiers on the ship – was left in my possession in his old Bible.

God our Father, who hath commended thy love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us: worthy was the Lamb that was slain to receive honor and glory and blessing.

Remembering once again him again whom we have pierced by our selfishness and folly, we acknowledge our sins and beseech thy forgiveness. We would learn of thee to forgive,  with thee to suffer, and in thee to overcome. Lord, in thy great mercy we ask that thou remember us now in thy kingdom – confirm our faith.

Forbid that we forget among our earthly comforts the mortal anguish our Lord Jesus endured for our salvation. As we behold him following the way of faith and duty even to the crown of thorns and the cross, grant us grace that we may learn the sterner lessons of life.

So endue us with power from on high that taking up our cross and following our Savior in his patience and humility we may enter in the fellowship of his sufferings and come at last to dwell with him in his eternal Kingdom.

I learned to pray at my father and mother’s table. Over time his theology changed in many ways, but his faith in Divine Goodness never waned.

In my last conversation with him before he died, I asked, “How are you doing with your faith?”

“Good,” he said with the heartiest smile his Parkinson’s would allow. He died two days later. His head was bowed.

10 thoughts on “Every head was bowed

  1. Blessed memories. I am certain my reluctance to go modern with “you” and “your” comes from your father’s beautiful, and powerful prayers.

    I confess I still substitute Thou, Thy/Thine, and Thee everywhere my brain is quick enough to catch it. It isn’t easy with the nominative since one should add est to the verb. (Obviously, “You came” becomes not “Thou came,” but “Thou camest,” which must be abbreviated to “cam’st,” which takes longer to say than “came,” but the reward is well worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn, I “hear” you. The thees and thous were once the equivalent of you, of course, but as they slipped into history, except for the KJV of the Bible, those pronouns took on another meaning – the sense of respect and reverence. They preserve dignity. The also live in a world quite different from the chummy “I just want to thaaaank you, Jesus” masturbation mistaken for prayer that became the muddle-headed style of so many churches in America. Heads up and hands in the air are no substitute for heads bowed.


  2. So much has come out of that picture and Mona’s contribution, etc.Awesome is an inadequate word for it all….. Grace and blessings upon us all. Curiosity, they say killed the cat. In my curiosity to see the picture more clearly, satisfaction has more than brought it back….. All the events of the past 24 hours,…restorative justice, prayer. your father in your memories. …I have a feeling it is only a ti of the iceberg.


  3. You made me cry — good tears. Such a wonderful family memory. A father worth honoring. ( and a son in his footsteps.)

    I cried at noon today too, at the Westminster Town Hall Forum, Bryan Severson. An amazing instantaneous standing ovation for him. I’ll buy the DVD when it’s available. Topic right up my alley: “Just Mrecy: Reforming the criminal Justice System.” Powerful to hear it from a man whose family has suffered the humiliation as we whites can’t even imagine. But such hope and power. I thought the DVD might be useful someday in teaching a course on the topic.


    • Mona, I missed the Westminster Town Hall Forum today. So glad for this report. Did you happen to hear MPR’s report today on the Restorative Justice sentence approved by the Hennepin county judge in the case of Mark Andrews? Mark is the former Hennepin County Commissioner who was badly beaten at the Mall of America two years ago. He recommended the sentence. Such a great story of grace and judgment. The Court agreed. The woman who beat him to within an inch of his life hugged him and wept on his shoulder. You’ll love this story of truth and consequences without imprisonment.


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