I have a small Lenten reflection guide that I like very much, provided to our parish by a generous woman in Ohio. It’s called The Little Books, published by the Diocese of Saginaw, MI, based on the writings of the late Bishop Ken Untener. It’s a wonderful booklet.
Yesterday’s reflection talked about Dorothy Day and her struggle to quit smoking. She gave it up for Lent year after year, to no avail. Finally, she was advised not to give up cigarettes for Lent, but instead to pray each day “Dear God, help me to stop smoking”. A short simple direct prayer, said with hope.
She did this for several years, not just during Lent, but each time she reached for a pack, many times daily. And one morning, she woke up and found that she simply didn’t want a cigarette. She never smoked again.
I find this story tremendously encouraging and hopeful as I face what seems like insurmountable difficulties in my life and in my family’s. Health issues, unemployment, loss, underemployment, financial issues. I read with such great sorrow of the tragedy still unfolding in Japan, the devastating effects on both man and the environment. It can be hard at such times to believe steadfastly in the power of prayer, to trust that good might arise from the midst of suffering and that God and His goodness will ultimately triumph.
But for some, quitting smoking can seem impossible, too. Yet a simple prayer, repeated with perserverance and faith, overcame that impossibility. Nothing is impossible for God.
That brief reflection story of Dorothy Day’s struggle is a small ray of light and reassurance. It encourages me to continue praying with faith and trust, not only as I work on icons, but in every moment when I find myself bogging down with worries.