Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Prayers

Ever read the book of Tobit? As I prepare for the Bible survey classes that will start me off on the seminary road I suppose I should be glad that the Bibles most evangelicals read have a mere 66 books (and not more), but I'm rather fond of some of the works that got left out. Ah, well, maybe ol' Tobit doesn't belong in the "canon." That didn't stop Fredrick Buechner from producing his short novel On the Road with the Archangel, a creative re-imagining of the tale told from the point of view of the angel who accompanies Tobit's son Tobias and his dog on his epic journey. I commend it to you. Here, as a taste, are the words that open the story:

"I am Raphael, one of the seven archangels who pass in and out of the presence of the Holy One, blessed be he. I bring him the prayers of all who pray and those who don't even know that they're praying.

"Some prayers I hold out as far from me as my arm will reach, the way a woman holds a dead mouse by the tail when she removes it from the kitchen. Some, like flowers, are almost too beautiful to touch, and others so aflame that I'd be afraid of their setting me on fire if I weren't already more like fire than I am like anything else. There are prayers of such power that you might almost say they carry me rather than the other way round—the way a bird with outstretched wings is carried higher and higher on the back of the wind. There are prayers so apologetic and shamefaced and halfhearted that they all but melt away in my grasp like sad little flakes of snow. Some prayers are very boring."


Kay Day said...

That's beautiful.
I've never read the apocrypha, but would like to.
I'd also like to read this book now. Thanks for sharing it.

Marti said...

You're welcome, Kay!