Shortly before she passed away, I was sitting in my grandmother’s bedroom and talking with her. I asked her – a staunch Catholic who had been receiving communion weekly in her home during her illness – if she wanted me to pray for her, or with her.

She said firmly: I have no use for all the extra words. I pray one prayer each day. It’s a simple prayer, but it says everything I need to say to God. I pondered the simplicity and confidence of her words. She was never one to be a shrinking violet.

I have no use for all the extra words.

I pray one prayer each day.

It’s a simple prayer, but it says everything I need to say to God.

Curious, I asked her what it it was. “It is some words from Mary Mackillop.”

As an aside, Mackillop was named Australia’s first Catholic saint only a few years ago and as founder of the Josephites, her order was involved in the education of most of my family, including my grandmother who had met Mary once when she was a child.

She motioned for me to go to her beside table and asked me to pick up her prayer book. On top was a small card, a prayer card, which simply read: “God grant me the strength for What is necessary”.

She read the card. Her now raspy voice a little broken.

“God grant me the strength for What is necessary”.

Tears welled up in my eyes knowing the depth and weight of this prayer and the breadth of it.

I knew she was right. No fancy, extemporaneous prayer would ever say as much as that card. No ostentatious faith would somehow have made this moment holier. She didn’t pray for the pain to ease, or for more life, or for anything people might expect. She prayed for the grace to live and die well. To have the strength to do what was necessary.

One of her greatest gifts to us as she struggled for her last breaths was that prayer. The day of her funeral as I stood at the lecturn to read a blessing she had assigned to me, I prayed it for myself. Quietly, desperately hoping I wouldn’t completely lose my composure while I stood in front of the assembled. My gift to her would be to speak this blessing clearly, firmly. She would want that — nae she would expect that of me. But, with ever fibre I needed to pray “god, grant me the strength for what is necessary.”

In that moment, when she had shared her prayer — her only prayer — I began to grieve.

Even now, I can’t write about it without tearing up. But even now, it provides me strength when faced with difficult news or when life feels overwhelming.

It is a complete lie that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Of course, life throws us hand grenades, and the world has landmines hidden in its rocky terrain; but when we reach the end of ourselves…when I reach the end of myself, this is where I go: god, grant me the strength for what is necessary.

 

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Anna Blanch_Gill Gamble_blog

Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer.  She is proudly Team Rabe. Recently married, she and her husband love to cook together using fresh ingredients. More recipes can be found at Food: Nourish.  You can follow her adventure on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook.  Quotidian Home is a place of comfort from which to show hospitality, of joining with friends for food, fun, laughter, and tears.

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Anna Blanch Rabe
anna@annablanchrabe.com
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