I have a memory. Oh my do I have a memory. I remember things that could have been purged long ago and far away but my memory has memorized them and that’s all there is to it. In the 10th grade I memorized Marc Anthony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. I do a very impressive dramatic impression of this grand Shakespearian moment. Stop me on the street any day and I’ll prove it. The point is I don’t need to know this anymore for any reason other than I do. The whole entire speech lives long in my memory-but that’s not all.
The Lord’s Prayer really does a number on me. If you know me you know I love the Lord and will shout it from the top of any mountain once I find one ‘round these parts. In the meanwhile I shout it from the grass on my prairie. What you may not know is I loathe saying The Lord’s Prayer. Loathe is a more dramatic word than plain old “hate.” What I loathe is saying The Lord’s Prayer with a group of other people saying it. The truth of the matter is most of them are just saying it and probably not feeling it. Don’t get your panties into a bundle over what I just said. It’s true. You say it but you probably don’t realize what you’re saying. The Lord’s Prayer lives in the same memory that holds all the words to Marc Anthony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. I don’t try to remember it, it takes zero effort and every word comes out every time and I have no idea how. That’s just fine and dandy when you’re reciting something so not important like a speech that happened on the Ides of March of 44 BC. Caesar died-yada, yada, yada. The Lord’s Prayer on the other hand is an important instruction given to us who believe on how to pray. When I am in a sanctuary full of people reciting The Lord’s Prayer I am the one in the audience saying it completely different than everyone else. I want Jesus to hear me and not just my memory spurting words. I learned the prayer and memorized it through repetitively praying it in the same iambic pentameter as all of you did. When I just speak the prayer I realize I am saying the words without connecting my spirit to what I am speaking. I am simply blurting out words from memory. In church I get my spirit groove on by mixing it up to a pace and rhythm that reminds me to feel the words I am saying. ’ll now show you what you might hear if you sit next to me in a church one day. I’ll be the girl saying The Lord’s Prayer like this:
“Our Father WHO art in Heaven above.
Your name is SO hallowed to me.
Thy kingdom comes as your will is being done and I thank you for that because this earth is difficult and sometimes impossible but what You do here is what You promise us in Heaven because what You promise never changes.
Bless You for always finding a way and the means to nourish me despite the fact I make mistakes and flub up. Because of the mercy You have granted me –I am able to forgive others and that is a very groovy thing.
Help me not to be tempted to follow the ways of the world but only You Lord. I pray a hedge of protection around myself and ask that you bumper me with angels to keep me from evil. Thank you for choosing me to live on Your earth. I’ll trust You to eternity and beyond and that’s a very long time.
I used to feel guilty about not saying it the same way as everyone else I had to do what I had to do to stay connected the way that was right for me-which may not be right for you.
I was reciting nursery rhymes to some elderly, wise people who were losing their memories. Some couldn’t remember who their daughter’s were anymore and others were nearly catatonic. They all held one thing in peculiar common. I began the words, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” I’m not sure why and I couldn’t explain how but 10 times out of 10 they could recite the next part of the nursery rhyme. A memory is a mystery how it loses some things and covets others.
Have you taken the time say a nursery rhyme lately? May I suggest saying The Lord’s Prayer before you do? Uffda! Many of those nursery rhymes are nothing but evil. You’ll need the protection. I used to recite them from nothing but memory. When I figured out that I was reciting them from the same place I was reciting The Lord’s Prayer I began to pay attention to the words escaping my mouth. That mother of mine just like that mother of your’s sang, “Rock-a-bye Baby” to me when I was anxious. If I wasn’t anxious before she began singing it I should have been anxious to the point of needing a Xanax drip afterwards. Let’s have an evil sing-a-long:
“Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.”
I know some of you are thinking, “That’s it! The Blonde on the Prairie is the way she is because her Mama dropped her on her head!” I assure you. I am the way I am simply for this curl right in the middle of my forehead.
I end in reminding you to remember to remember what you’re saying before you say it and from my memory I remind you, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good if oft interred with their bones.” Be good, do good, think good anyway. And with that I say, “Amen!”
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.