Mar. 8, 2007

Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church

by Todd Davis

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Poem: "Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church" by Todd Davis from Some Heaven. © Michigan State University Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church

Pray for the Smucker family. Their son Nathaniel's coat and shirt were
caught in the gears while grinding grain. Nothing would give, so now
he is gone. We made his clothes too well. Perhaps this is our sin.

Pray for the Birky family. Their son Jacob fell to his death in the
granary. He was covered in corn before they could stop the pouring—
chest crushed by the weight, seed spilling from his mouth. We hope
something will grow from this, besides our grief.

Pray for the Hartzler family. Their youngest has left the church and no
longer believes that Christ died for her sins. She buys clothes at the
mall. Tongue pierced, nose as well. Her shirt shows her belly where a
ring of gold sprouts. We pray she will remember that her Lord's side
was pierced, that His crown held no gold, only the dried blood of His

Pray for the Miller family. Last week their daughter, who lives in
Kalona, lost her baby at birth. Child only half-formed: head turned the
wrong way; heart laid on the outside of her chest; one leg little more
than an afterthought. Lord, help them know that life may come again,
that we are all made whole in heaven.

Pray for the Stutzman family. Their son fights in the war. We call him
back to the Prince of Peace, to our Savior who knelt to gather the
slave's ear, brushed the dirt away, lifted it to the side of his flushed face.
May we leave no scars. May we ask no blessing for the killing done in
His name.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides, (books by this author) born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (1960). He got the idea for his first novel when he was visiting his older brother, and he got to talking to the babysitter his brother was employing at the time. She mentioned to Eugenides that she and all of her sisters had attempted suicide at least once in their lives. That conversation gave Eugenides the idea for his novel The Virgin Suicides, which came out in 1993.

Eugenides's took nine years to write his next novel, Middlesex, about a hermaphrodite named Calliope. When the novel came out in 2002, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

It's the birthday of writer John McPhee, (books by this author) born in 1931 in Princeton, New Jersey, and considered one of the greatest living literary journalists.

When he was in high school, his English teacher required her students to write three compositions a week, each accompanied by a detailed outline, and many of which the students had to read out loud to the class. Ever since he took that class, McPhee has carefully outlined all his written work and has read out loud to his wife every sentence he writes before it is published.

He is known for the huge range of his subjects. He has written about canoes, geology, tennis, nuclear energy, and the Swiss army. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book about the geology of America, Annals of the Former World (1998).

In his book Oranges (1967), about the orange-growing business, he wrote, "An orange grown in Florida usually has a thin and tightly fitting skin, and it is also heavy with juice. Californians say that if you want to eat a Florida orange you have to get into a bathtub first. California oranges are light in weight and have thick skins that break easily and come off in hunks. The flesh inside is marvelously sweet, and the segments almost separate themselves. In Florida, it is said that you can run over a California orange with a 10-ton truck and not even wet the pavement."

It's the birthday of the literary critic Leslie Fielder, (books by this author) born in Newark, New Jersey (1917). He believed that the great theme of American literature was the search for identity. He said, "Americans have no real identity. We're all ... uprooted people who come from elsewhere."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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