Wednesday, October 2, 2013

FOR THIS CHILD I HAVE PRAYED




In a cold, dank cathedral, somewhere in Northern Ireland, I knelt beside my daughter and prayed.

My focus was drawn to the large stained glass window just over my right shoulder. “For this child I have prayed.” The words were so forceful that I went to have a closer look as our tour group was leaving.

The window was given in memory of someone, as most windows are. It was made of brilliant red, green, blue, and yellow bits of glass. A child stood in the foreground.

This message struck home for me as I had so often prayed for the child who was with me. At twenty-three she had reached a crossroads in her life. Should she go to medical school? Would she be accepted? How about the young men she was dating? Was one of them Mr. Right?

I look out the window of our home church and see the graves of children. Some are adorned with small stone lambs or angels. I imagine the heartbreak as two distraught parents laid their little one to rest.

In the mountains of East Tennessee there are graves—really no more than large rocks—outside of the kitchen windows of old farm houses. The mountaineers call these ‘kitchen babies.’ Tiny children, many who died before they could be named, were buried here so that their mother could look out and pray for them as she worked.

I saw a painting of an Ancient Egyptian couple lying prostrate over the elaborate sarcophagus of their child.

What about Mary, as she watched the brutal crucifixion of her first born? How her heart must have broken.

“For this child I have prayed.” The marriage service in my Episcopal prayer book has a prayer that asks for ‘the gift and heritage of children.’

Our children are our future. They embody our past. Our prayers to a good God who loves them more than we can ring out across the world—in cathedrals, through kitchen windows, in simple graveyards of centuries past.

By Edith Edwards


Edith Edwards lives and writes on the banks of the beautiful Lockwood Folly River in southeastern North Carolina. This scenery can be found in her books and articles. She and her husband Don have two grown daughters and four grandchildren--all great people. Edith has just retired after 29 years as a teacher and speech therapist. She has written two books of fiction and coauthored a book of short stories. She belongs to the Writers Bloc--a dedicated group of writers at Holden Beach.

8 comments:

Ada Brownell said...

A great reminder to pay for our children! God bless you.

Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks, Edith--I really appreciate your essay. Those five words are full of encouragement, esp. for those for whom parenting might not be a bed of roses right now! Bless you for sharing.

Gail Kittleson

Caroline said...

Wonderful reminder that are children are the future. I can not imagine the hardache of laying one to rest as some have done, and hope I never do. Thank you for reminding us to cherish them and pray earnestly for them.

J.B. DiNizo said...

Wonderful words! I loved this! I especially loved the section about the "kitchen babies". It reached into my heart.

Liz Flaherty said...

This is so nice. I'd never heard the lost babies called "kitchen babies." My grandmother's two were buried in the garden, and that particular part of the plot became her rose garden. I guess grandpa laid it out and fenced it for her. She would go in there alone and no one ever bothered her. She was a taciturn and (from the POV of a 7-year-old) cold woman. Hard to understand heartbreak at that age, I guess.

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Edith,

Your post encouraged/blessed me. I love that we never know who our writing may touch, or how--and being a parent brings such joys and challenges.

You touched me today. (I wrote another comment, but it hasn't appeared, so am writing again.) Thank you,

Gail K

Edith Edwards said...

J.B., I loved the 'kitchen babies' also. I learned about them one fall while hiking in the Great Smoky Mts. of East Tennessee. To look out of the kitchen windows of one of those old farm houses and see the little gravestones with the beautiful fall leaves settling on them was quite moving. Thanks for bringing this memory to mind. Edith

Edith Edwards said...

Thank you all for your encouraging words. This is the first time I have ever posted to a blog of any sort---your encouragement will keep me at it. Have a great weekend all! Edith