Thou Knowest Better Than I

Judge Charles A. Wofford, 33°

A prayer sums up the wisdom of age.

Some time ago I ran across a prayer, an oldster’s prayer by an unknown bard. It struck me as more than just a communication between one and his Lord. It seems to contain a whole life philosophy of practicality, humor, common sense, wisdom -- a way of living for us all. Legend says Commodore John W. Caunce, Master of the original Queen Elizabeth, the majestic ocean liner of the Cunard Line, kept a framed copy in his quarters. The Commodore unselfishly shared it with his passengers. So in unselfish delight, I am sharing it with all those who have never read it.

Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint -- some of them are so hard to live with -- but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the Grace to tell them so. Amen.