Here is one of my favorite prayers. It comes from the German children’s book author Margot Benary-Isbert (1889-1979). She moved to the United States from Postwar Germany in 1952 and became a United States citizen in 1957. While Benary-Isbert wrote for children, I especially like her “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess,” which was written for those of us with “silver hair.” – John
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end, I will need a few friends.
Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains – they increase with the increasing years, and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally, I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint – it is so hard to live with some of them – but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful, but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.