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More Prayers from the Ark

Prayers from the Ark

This is a wonderful book of poems by French writer Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, written during the grim years of the Second World War. Noah and a representative group of animals offer their own style of prayer, some funny, some sad, some full of hope, all brief and fresh.

The book is readily available secondhand - just Google for it. There is a new edition too which also includes "The Creatures' Choir".

I've purchased and given away 2 copies, and have a third copy for myself. Because of copyright I can only give a fragment as a sample, so here is a piece of the Ox's prayer

"Dear God, Men are always so driven. Make then understand that I can never move quickly..."

Here are my own contributions in a similar style:-

The Prayer of the Snail


Dear Lord,

 I am slow they say;
 Keep the Ark open while I come.
 Keep me from careless feet
 That crush my delicately woven shell,
 A thing of delight to all Mathematicians!
 Then shell and all will say

The Prayer of the Little Lamb

Dear God,

 Thank You for the sweet milk
 And the sweet grass,
 And for my flock whose bleats calm my timid fears.
 Thank You for young legs that leap,
 And when they wander let Your Shepherd always find me.

The Prayer of the Old Dog

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Dear God,

 Truly my bark is now worse than my bite:
 My strength is gone -
 I can no longer round up the sheep.
 Let Your strength be my unfailing hope
 And Your Shepherd my unfailing Friend,
 While I feebly wag my tail in quiet joy.

The Prayer of the Broken Shell

Dear God,

 You Who made man from the dust,
  have pity on a poor broken shell,
 washed up on the shore.
 Good for nothing, except,
  if you place me to Your ear,
 You may hear the faint murmur of the ocean waves
  of Your own great love.

 Take me up, and let the waves
  carry me along,
 and drop me where it is my delight to be,
  even at Your feet forever.
 (adapted from "Morning and Evening" by CH Spurgeon, April 12)


The Prayer of the Worm

Dear God,
 You Who made everything
  said at one time,
  when you entered the deepest of dark holes,
  "I am a worm and no man".
 Yet since the trees and rivers
  may clap their hands
  and the hills may sing for joy,
 Even a worm may wriggle joyfully
  to Your great Praise.
  (inspired by Psalm 22, Psalm 98 and Isaiah 55)

The Prayer of the Old Cat

Dear God,
 Nine lives they say, but all too short
  to watch all wonders you have made;
 leaves and birds, lizards, crickets,
  fluttering, scampering, chirping.
 Now I scamper little, my lot seems to be
  to sit on my old chair in serenity,
  which soon turns to sleep.
 When I awake to purr in your arms
  let me see birds of Paradise.

The Prayer of the Tadpole

Dear Lord,
  Just when I have become comfortable in my little pond
  You send the rain, the creek floods,
  And sweeps me away to another brief place of comfort.

  Why do You do it, You Who take thought for the sparrows?
  Is it that, when I grow feet,
  I may climb to safety upon Your Rock?


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