A Prayer of Joy

by Fr. Eddie Doherty

The ducks have returned to the Madawaska River. They are pretending to be jet planes, dive bombers, torpedoes, or snorkel submarines. I wish I could enjoy the icy water as they do.

A late snow falls. Great white flakes. And someone nearby has made a bonfire of last year’s fallen twigs and branches. I love the smell of wood smoke. Lord, let it come up to you as incense for your new April. And let me offer with it a prayer of perfect joy.

There are people offering their pain to you as prayer. There are people offering prayers in atonement for misdeeds or grievous sins. There are people offering prayers of supplication, and prayers of petition, and prayers of faith and love and hope.

But prayers of joy, I think, are very few. Yet we have most need of you when we are most happy.

What do we need to make us happy? A new convertible with red leather seats? A final payment on the first mortgage? A boyfriend? A well-paying job, or a promotion with twice as much money? A new outfit? A broiled lobster and half a keg of beer? A trip to Europe or some other expensive continent?

Once I worked for most of these things—and only for them. Now my happiness is made of little things. The sun rising in the blazing east. A marigold in full bloom. A sparrow staring at me from a post. A mushroom ready to pick. A hamburger or hot dog, with French mustard, or perhaps a dash of horseradish, or even a plate of spinach with melted cheese.

A bunch of wild flowers brought into my room. Sunset and evening star. The faces of happy friends.

From Getting to Know God, (1998), pp. 65-66, available from MH Publications, out of print