Prayer for Life & Humanity in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A prayer for full humanity in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - read in Literate Theology / KateRaeDavis.com

Prayer

This prayer is a quiet and quick murmur of desperation upon learning of the start of war, uttered by the protagonist Francie Nolan in Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:

“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry . . . have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere–be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

It’s a prayer for attentiveness, for awareness, for full embodiment. An honest prayer to be fully alive.

Fully Human

We Christians talk about the two natures of Christ; how Christ was “fully God and fully human” at the same time. And I think we often take the humanity for granted; he had a body, and that was enough to call him human. But I wonder if full humanity is something to attain, like wisdom and mindfulness.

I wonder if part of what Francie is praying for here is to become more fully human by being attentive to every moment of embodied life.

Which is what makes it a Christian prayer. Not because it starts with “Dear God,” (which prayer from any religion would do in translation). It’s a Christian prayer because she prays with a foundation in the belief of the importance of incarnation — the incarnation of her own self. Because God made flesh and named it good, and God chose to take on flesh and be embodied with us.

Prayer from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - read more about it on Literate Theology / KateRaeDavis.com


For discussion: Have you ever had moments that gave you a similar desire for life? What was it?

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