I have a brother-in-law who is always helping someone with a project. Bob is gifted with a general knowledge of just about every aspect of construction. Actually, he’s not just Bob – to all who know and love him he’s Bob Berney.
I’ve never questioned why that is, I think it just rolls out that way – even for the little ones. When the family was gathered recently, someone tested his little granddaughter to see if she could identify mom, dad, brother, right on down the family tree. Each time she answered with the correct one word response, “Nina, Steve, Luke, etc. But when it came to grandpa’s name she replied, “Bob Berney.” It’s just who he is, even a three year old knows that.
Anyway, we bought our home through a short sale and it needed a complete overhaul. When Bob heard there was work to be done he packed up his tools and drove 500 miles to help us out! Everyone who knows Bob knows his generous spirit.
A couple weeks ago Bob sent me a short letter. I don’t know for sure that the timing of my birthday that week and the topic of his letter are related, but given the contents… Bob’s note suggested I blog about a prayer he included, one that he received from a highly respected uncle who read it weekly from age 62 on. Bob noted that he too reads it about once a week “to keep me in line.”
I did some quick research and learned that the prayer is derived from a writing known as “The Seventeenth Century Nun’s Prayer” written by an unknown nun. The words handed down to Bob read:
Lord, thou knowest that I am growing older, keep me from becoming talkative and possessed with the idea that I must express myself on every subject.
Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s life.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point and then be quiet.
Seal my lips when I am inclined to tell of my aches and pains. They are increasing with the years and my love to speak of them grows sweeter as time goes by.
Make me thoughtful but not nosey – helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom and experience it does seem a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
My current memory verse is Ephesians 4:2, Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Bob’s prayer reflects that command and I see it at work in his life. When he asks, “How are you doing?” he expects a response. And if I mention any need, he is surely prepared to help. It’s automatic, part of who he has become. I know he wasn’t always this way (I’ve heard stories!), but he is making a purposeful effort to use his skills to be a blessing to others.
Though Bob is faithfully blessing others with his talents, his prayer is proof that he understands that loving God and loving others doesn’t necessarily equate to “doing.” Sometimes we just need to be still and listen. Listen to God and listen to others. Thank you for sharing this prayer with your aging sister-in-law, Bob! May God help me apply it.