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.
“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.