I’m a devoutly lapsed Jew. But that doesn’t mean I’m completely without religion. Once a year, I put on a green sweater and go to Easter services with my wife. Even though Jesus isn’t my main man, I do find the music and spirit of the place, well, uplifting.
“Darling,” my wife asked a few weeks ago as we walked through the almost-blooming garden of St. Luke’s in Manhattan’s West Village, “what do you think about during the service?” I answered truthfully: nothing, I just kind chill, space out, try to keep up. And then I fessed up that I was wondering how to get the six-word memoir book into church book groups everywhere. While only a handful of the six-word life stories are specifically about religion (“Not a good Christian, but trying,” “Atheist plus Methodist make Jewish children”), the pious and the punks have told us alike that the book has been an inspiration. And one minister has already challenged the readers of his “faith” column to wonder, “What would Jesus’ six-word memoir be?” Personally, I’ve greeted the six-worders that have touched on religion with much less cynicism that I would have before the six-word memoir project began. Now, I gladly embrace each new six-word memoir on faith. How can you not be moved by this short, short life story that popped up on SMITH one morning: “God, how long was I sleeping?”
As if my Easter prayers were answered, a week after going to church, I received this note from the Rev. D. Geoffrey Taylor.
I was so inspired by the Six Word Memoir book and website that I wrote to my parish about it suggesting and adaptation: writing six word prayers. The letter I sent to them telling them about your project and asking for their six word prayers follows. Thank you so much for inspiring this.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
I knew a priest who told me that his prayers had gotten shorter and shorter over his lifetime, not because he was in any hurry to pray, but because he had realized what it was he wanted to say to God in nearly every prayer for himself. His own personal prayer was, “I’m sorry. Help me. Thank you.”
Six words that, for him, summed up nearly everything he wanted to say to God. He could have, of course, listed those things for which he was sorry, those things in which he needed help and those things about which he was thankful. He chose instead to condense to those six words that were so meaningful for him.
I was reminded of this priest when I heard about and then read a new book entitled, “Six Word Memoirs” edited by SMITH Magazine. [Explanation from SMITH followed, which I won’t repeat here.] I found the book and web site to be quite inspirational … remembering that short prayer mentioned above, I thought about what wonderful spiritual exercise it would be if each of us tried to come up with our own six word prayers.
While there is no “right” way to pray, sometimes trying a new way to voice our prayers to God can be a good way to help us focus on what it is we really want from God. So here goes: Write down your own six words prayers (As many of them as you wish. Send them all at once or send them one at a time as you think about them) to:
They can be intercessory prayers: “God help Persephone. She needs it.” Prayers of thanksgiving: “Thanks God. I don’t deserve it.” Prayers of Petition: “Gracious God, please give me strength.” Prayers of Adoration: “I’ve got God. Who needs chocolate?” Prayers of penitence: “He started it. But I’m sorry.” And countless other forms. The most important thing is to try it and have fun. No one ever said prayer wasn’t supposed to be fun.
Yours in Christ,
I won’t be joining the good reverend in Christ, but he’s our new copilot in Six.
Church sign from Flickr user Alanna@VanIsle.