Posted by: Robin | June 2, 2008


St. George's Chapel, Windsor, UKA few years back during my travels in the U.K., I decided to record my itinerary by buying a pushpin from each place I visited. During my quest for my Windsor Castle pushpin, I wandered into the gift shop attached to St. George’s Chapel. Immediately an 11×13, beautifully but simply illuminated piece of calligraphy caught my eye. Once I’d read it I knew it would be traveling home with me. I occasionally look at my pushpins and smile at the memories they evoke, but it is to this unintended purchase I return again and again. It hangs on the wall of my bedroom and never ceases to bring pleasure, gentle chastening, nourishment of the spirit and new perspective.


This morning I reread it, and again it made me smile all over as well as inspiring a deep gratitude that this wonderfully humorous and wise, anonymous 17th-century nun’s prayer about the foibles of being a person of a certain age survived to bring laughter and a missing measure of grace to my perspective on being a person of a certain age. How much I would have enjoyed a cup of tea and an afternoon of delightful conversation with her.


If I’d progressed to the digital age I’d share a photo of it for the added aesthetic pleasure of the artwork that suits the words so well, but for now all I can give are her words. Let me know if she as effortlessly captures your heart as she has mine.

17th Century Nun’s Prayer

Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of the others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint-some of them are so hard to live with-but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. AMEN

[The title is traditional and the source is unknown.]



  1. I would write more but the prayer “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details” has been answered in this case.

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