THE PASSING YEARS 

A PRAYER ON MY BIRTHDAY 

 Prayer of Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others.Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen

Margot Benary-Isbert

German-born children’s author known for her “depictions of humane, realistic characters.”

Benary-Isbert attended the College St. Carolus and the University of Frankfurt. She worked as a secretary at the Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology in Frankfurt, Germany from 1910-1917, when she married Wilhelm Benary. They settled in Erfurt, in East Germany. 

When the Russians took over Germany, she fled to the apartment of a friend in West Germany. In 1948 she wrote Die Arche Noah (The Ark). In 1953 it received a first prize at the New York Herald Tribune’s Spring Book Festival. Post-war Germany became a common theme in most of her works.

In 1952 she moved to the United States, where she was naturalized in 1957 and worked as a writer until her death. She received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1957 for “Annegret und Cara”.

Most of Benary-Isbert’s books were originally written and published in German; some were later translated into English and published again.
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