Friday, January 10, 2014

Prayer and Potatoes

Hi Blogger friends,

Joe and I have been down sizing, cleaning out closets, making trips to Goodwill, filling garbage cans.. you know how that goes.  I came across some poems, and writings. I don't know where they came from, or how I acquired them (I'm thinking they might have been my mom's, but they were in among  a huge amount of papers I had stored away on a shelf. This one really tugged at my heart strings, probably because one of the things I love to do the most is pray. But it made me stop and think, how many times, have I said when someone shared a need or situation they wanted me to pray about, that I did.........but when I thought about it, I had plenty of "potatoes" I could have shared with them. I was right there. I could have helped. So my goal this year is to not just pray but if I can, to help meet that need. Be it just being a better listener, visiting a lonely widow, helping a mom haul her groceries to her car so she has better control of the three kids tagging along behind. Does my neighbor need a ride to a Dr. appt?  Does the neighbor next to her need a break from caring for her bed ridden mom even if it's just to go get the mail or a McDonalds coffee?   I just want to make sure they "get the potatoes"  :)  


An old woman sat in her old armchair, with wrinkled visage and disheveled hair.
For days and for weeks her only fare, as she sat in her old armchair, had been potatoes.
But now they were gone-----for bad or good, not one was left for the old lady’s food.
And she sighed and said, “What shall I do? To whom shall I go for more Potatoes?”
And she thought of the deacon over the way, the deacon so ready to worship and pray,
Whose cellar was full of potatoes.
And she said: “I will send for the deacon to come: he’ll not mind much to give me some of such a store of potatoes.”
And the deacon came over as fast as he could, thinking to do the old lady some good,
But he never once thought of potatoes.
He asked her at once what was her chief want; and she, simple soul, expecting a grant, immediately answered “potatoes”
But the deacon’s religion didn't lie that way.
He was more accustomed to preach and to pray;
So, not hearing, of course what the old lady said,
He arose to pray with uncovered head; but she only thought of potatoes.
He prayed for patience and wisdom and grace;
But when he prayed, “Lord give her peace,” she audibly sighed.
And at the end of each prayer which he said,
He heard, in its stead, the same request for potatoes.
The deacon was troubled---knew not what to do.---
“Twas very embarrassing to have her act so about
“those carnal potatoes” So, ending his prayer, he
Started for home; but as the door closed behind him he heard
A deep groan, “Oh, give to the hungry potatoes!”
And that groan followed him all the way home;
 in the midst of the night it haunted his room
He could bear it no longer, arose and dressed-
From his well-filled cellar
Taking in haste a bag of his best potatoes.
Again he went to the widow’s lone hut;
Her sleepless eyes she had not yet shut.
And there she sat in that old armchair, with the same
Wan features, the same sad air.
And entering in, he poured on the floor
A bushel or more from his goodly store of choicest potatoes. 
The widow’s heart leaped up for joy!
Her face was haggard and wan no more. “Now,”
said the deacon, “shall we pray?”
“yes”, said the widow, “now you may.”
And he kneeled him down on the sanded floor where he
had poured his bountiful store. And such a prayer the deacon prayed
as never before his lips essayed; no longer embarrassed, but free and full,
he poured out the voice of a liberal soul.
And the widow responded a loud “Amen!” but said no more of potatoes.
And would you, who hear this simple tale,
Pray for the poor, and praying, “prevail?”
Then preface your prayers with alms and good deeds;
Search out the poor, their wants and their needs.
Pray for peace, and grace, and spiritual food,
For wisdom, and guidance, for all these are good:
But don’t forget the potatoes.
                            G. Petee (1876)
This century-old sermon in verse was preserved by Ross Brown Wood, an early Disciples settler in Deer Lodge, Montana.  Mrs. Wood died in the 1950’s at the age of 100. The poem is as relevant today as it was then.