be careful what you pray for, you just might….


I remember sitting with some classmates in George Alexander’s Social Studies class when I was in the eighth grade.

I don’t remember why we were all talking…maybe we’d finished our work, I don’t really remember.

Maybe we were just talking.

I remember we were talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up.

Everyone had ideas like trial lawyer or doctor…things that were lofty and doable.  They all had potentially profitable and respected goals.

I said that I wanted to build a cabin way out in the woods and be a hermit.

I wonder where that came from?  Why would I say something like that?

Being a hermit doesn’t do much to accentuate your résumé.

When someone asks, “So….tell me about yourself.  What have you been up to for the past 50 years?” and you have to answer that you’ve been living in the woods all that time, it’s probably not an answer that’s going to get you hired.

But that’s what I wanted to do.  Somewhere, somehow, that thought got planted in my brain.

I was going to live in the woods and be a hermit.

I live in the woods…sort of…but since they paved the road, it all feels pretty easy.

I’m about as far from being a hermit as I could be, though.

I have a family. I have a job.

I guess that when a child is asked, “What does your Dad do?”  they could possibly answer, “Oh, he’s a hermit.” but it’s kind of unlikely.

I don’t know many “hermit daddies”.  I’ve seen some hermit crabs…but never a hermit daddy.

This is all the typically long-winded way of saying that I think that our prayers really are answered…but, a lot of times it seems at least, not always in the complete form we think the answer should take.

I guess “hermit in the woods” was a feasible option…even for an eighth grader.  It would have upset my parents…my education would have suffered….but I could have taken off for the deep woods and built a cabin…or at least found a good sturdy box to lay down in at night.

I could have done that.

What a waste that would have been, though.

If I had seen some star, falling through the sky, and had been quick enough to say, “Wish I may, wish I might, first star I see tonight…” said the whole thing…and wished for a lifetime of solitude in some extremely rural utopia…and BAM…there I was in unreachable Alaska or something like it….that would have been pretty horrible…in retrospect.

Wishing isn’t the same thing as praying, but you get the picture.

It makes me wonder if it’s not so much an issue of prayers going unanswered as it is prayers getting slightly re-directed.

Like gently putting a child back on a path or holding someone’s hand for balance while they walk a railroad rail.

I guess that walking is just a series of falling down and correcting…I throw myself, I catch myself…but we don’t notice any of it because “that is just what we do”. It’s not out of the ordinary when it’s a habit.

We can go through a lifetime of thinking, “GOD NEVER ANSWERS ANY OF MY PRAYERS!!!! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!!!” and then get to the end, and in the looking back and reminiscing, finally see the big picture and say, “oh…..”.

We say “oh…..” because it’s easier to see where we’ve been when the scale is bigger than what’s in front of our noses.

We see answers that took a different form than what we could, in our shortsightedness, envision at the time we were praying for them.

I live in the woods, but I’m not a hermit.  I’m a husband and a father…I’m even a reasonably social “rural carrier” ( that’s a mailman).  I’m far from being a hermit.

I’m glad we don’t exactly get everything we pray for.


About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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