Whispers to God

by Wolf Pascoe on April 30, 2012

Come wanderer, worshipper, lover
of leaving.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come even if you have broken your vows
a thousand times.
Come, come yet again, come.
— Rumi

It’s the oddest thing, but I’ve started to pray.

God is no stranger, but for me words have never been part of the relationship. To talk to Her, to declare my intentions out loud, feels too foreward, almost ridiculous, as when singing an Emily Dickenson poem to the tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Go ahead, give it a try:

On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.

The birds rose smiling in their nests,
The gales indeed were done;
Alas! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone!




In her memoir, Lit, that consummate essayist Mary Karr chronicled her career as a drunkard.

When she hit bottom, despite her cynicism, she began praying. Praying, she said, turned her life around.

Drunkard I am not, nor cynic. My worst addiction—it is a bad one—is sugar. That’s not true. My worst addiction is avoiding vulnerability, which takes many forms, sugar one of them.

You should try this prayer idea, I thought. It could help your little problem.

But I didn’t.

Then,  a month ago in Oregon, I got scared.

If we moved to Oregon, I saw, I would have to reinvent myself. That is to say, the thousand things I do to avoid vulnerability would have to translate to another location.

A lot of work, that. A lot of furniture.

There comes a point when it’s all too much, all the attempts at control. They make you rigid, and rigid costs. And anyway, it doesn’t seem to solve the problem, not really. So after fifty years of wandering you just give up. You sit down and ask for help.

You—-there is no other word—surrender.




When I was young, I said a prayer every night at bedtime. It went like this:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

God Bless —

I filled in the names, everyone I could think of, beginning with Mommy, Daddy, and my sisters.

When my father died, I realized it had all been a farce. What kind of God took your father away? I couldn’t say the prayer anymore.

That’s when the lists started, the charms, spells of protection. Protection turned into habit, habit to addiction.

Action to prevent the disaster, Ashleigh Brilliant has said, will be taken as soon as possible after it has happened.




I hadn’t thought of Now I lay me down to sleep for years. But a few months ago, putting Nick to bed, I taught him the prayer. He has always needed a night light in his room, and this night in particular he didn’t want me to leave.

“Do you believe in God?” I said.


“Well, this is something you can say.”

He seemed to like the idea.




Peace us such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.
— Matthew Henry

When talking to God you can’t lie. That’s the whole thing. That’s why it works. I’m probably preaching to the converted, but I have to say these things for me.

It’s best not to be distracted or self-conscious, which probably means being alone. Think of what you want. Look for the words to say it. Since you can’t lie, you have to look at what you want for what it is. If that makes you feel a certain way, the words might lead somewhere else.

I don’t really think God is a woman. But the whole, ridiculous, Yellow-Rose-of-Texas act of talking as if Someone is listening short circuits something false in you.

Silent prayer is not what I’m talking here. You need to make the words on your lips and tongue, with breath. The sound must go out, even if only a whisper. Who knows where it ends up? Could be the wrinkle of your pocket. Or the horizon of time.

Perhaps, no difference.



The Business of Childhood



Praying Even When You Don’t Believe in God



Just Add Father, at any rate, is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Pauline Gaines April 30, 2012 at 7:31 am

This put tears in my eyes, Wolf. I think you know how much I relate to what you wrote. I have to say I was surprised to learn you fight feeling vulnerable, because your blog beautifully expresses the vulnerability and nuance of life. But, then, life is full of contradictions, isn’t it? And so are we, as people.


Wolf Pascoe April 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Ah, Pauline, I’m so glad you came by. I often feel like we’re on the same team.


Barbara April 30, 2012 at 10:20 am

Such an honest post, admitting your vulnerability and lack of control. I believe I started praying – really, truly praying – at the same moment. It gave me such a heady feeling of peace and security, that I continue to do it, although I admit there are times I forget and try to hang on to that control. I usually pray in silence, though, off and on all day. Good advice to pray out loud when I get the chance.
“When talking to God you can’t lie. That’s the whole thing. That’s why it works.” Amen!


Wolf Pascoe April 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I almost wrote, “If you’re lying, it’s not God you’re talking to. It’s someone else.”


jeff skorman April 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

Very nice prayer and meditation are the two most important things in my life.It’s really nice that you are able to write about this stuff.


Wolf Pascoe April 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

My favorite wisdom about meditation (not mine) is this:
Meditate an hour a day, unless you don’t have time.
If you don’t have time, meditate two hours a day.


Sirena April 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Excellent post. Surrender. Sounds so easy, just let go and there you are. Prayer can certainly help and it sure couldn’t hurt….


Wolf Pascoe April 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Any anyway, you can always sing some Emily Dickinson.


Privilege of Parenting April 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm

While I am short on words in the presence of this post, I love it and I feel it and it evokes love in my heart that reaches from the wrinkle in my pocket inward to ever deeper mysteries and outward in the same vast loving spirit.

With Love for you, our common source and destiny—for perhaps we can love even what we do not understand. As to whether that unfathomable entity could feel loved by we who cannot understand it… well, perhaps in our worst moments of loss and angst we dip into pockets of experience too big for any single psyche, urged along by love toward each other and our expanding Self made entirely of Love?


Wolf Pascoe May 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I think there’s a whole cosmology in this comment, Bruce. I love your take on that unfathomable entity.


Kyle Bradford May 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It’s been said that if you wish to truly humble a man – ask him about his prayer life.


Wolf Pascoe May 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

And ask his children what they think about him.


pamela May 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I am awestruck by this post. It’s as though you were speaking to me. There is so much wisdom here – I learned so much about myself just by reading. I loved this especially –

If we moved to Oregon, I saw, I would have to reinvent myself. That is to say, the thousand things I do to avoid vulnerability would have to translate to another location.

A lot of work, that. A lot of furniture.

Amen. Thank you!!


Wolf Pascoe May 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I think it’s going to take a lot of chocolate to get me through this move, should it come to pass.


Kate May 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm

In our last move, I packed boxes of all sorts of chewy candy – my gall stones not yet removed, chocolate was one of many triggers – for the drive down. Away from all I knew. Away from the comfort and safety that had sheltered me and fed me for 6 weeks after a new baby joined us. Away. To a house I had not set foot in. To a town I had been to twice. To the abyss of unknown.

I remember one night, early on, with two kids and a husband out of town and no one, no one I knew the name of yet within 200 miles. That is when I prayed most fervently.

In time, the furniture fit. And slowly new routines were found. New friendships kindled. And less candy was consumed. In time.


Wolf Pascoe May 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm

You are truly courageous.


Kate May 5, 2012 at 8:32 am



Wolf Pascoe May 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Magis ignavus ego.


BigLittleWolf May 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I am beyond words in this place you create here. But I have always “whispered,” rather than prayed.


Wolf Pascoe May 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Dieu chuchoteur!


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