A revised Motorist’s Prayer

I came across the Motorist’s Prayer while searching for the prayers to use with a Saint Christopher chaplet. A chaplet is small devotional set of beads for a specific intention, like a rosary, but often smaller. The prayers are unique for each chaplet.
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The Motorist’s Prayer (original)

Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye
that no one shall be hurt as I pass by.
You gave life, I pray no act of mine
may take away or mar that gift of Thine.
Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company
from the evils of fire and all calamity.
Teach me to use my car for others need;
Nor miss through love of undue speed
the beauty of the world; that thus I may,
with joy and courtesy, go on my way.
Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

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But I don’t like it because it is in sing-song rhyme. The rhyme gets in the way of being able to really understand the words. Perhaps it makes it easier for some people to memorize when it is in rhyme, but for me then that means there is a chance that the words become vain repetitions – something Jesus warns us against.

I’ve rewritten it without the rhyme, keeping as many of the original words as possible.
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The Motorist’s Prayer (revised)
Heavenly Father, grant that my hand is steady and my eye watchful so that I bring no harm to those I pass by today.
Help me to remember that that You are the giver of life, so that I do not take away or harm Your gift.
Take care of my passengers so that no harm comes to them.
Teach me to use my car to help others and to not miss the glory of Your creation because I am speeding.
Help me to travel through Your creation with joy and courtesy.
Lord, with Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

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Please note that I also changed the ending. It is important to know Who is the one you are praying to. Saint Christopher cannot do anything – only God can. God can work through people, but we must always remember that they are not the Source of healing – only God is.

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Careful in that car

There’s something about driving that makes you forget what you’re doing. It is easy to get lulled into a sense that driving is more like watching a movie or playing a video game than real.  Perhaps it is the climate control so you don’t have to experience the weather.  Perhaps it is the good suspension that smooths out every bump so you don’t experience the road.  It is easy to forget that the other cars on the road are real and filled with people. It is easy to forget that one wrong move and someone will die.

 

The most aggressive drivers on the road are those who drive large trucks, like Ford F-150s. They are so high above and removed from everyone else that they seem to forget that there is anyone else on the road. These vehicles are very sturdy and give a sense of protection to the driver, but result in a sense of threat to everyone else, because the driver often drives as if he is the only person on the road.

 

I think it’s a good idea to have a car that has lightweight doors that make you realize how fragile and how thin your protection is between you and other cars. I think it’s a good idea to have a car that doesn’t have quick acceleration so you don’t feel you can cut off other drivers. A slow car makes you wait for an opening rather than forcing one. I think it’s a good idea to think of your car as a two thousand pound weapon. This way you will be considerate on the road.

 

When you ride a motorcycle you are fully in the elements. You are made aware of every moment and everything has to be done very carefully and mindfully or you will get hurt. The same is true for bicyclists or walkers.  The less you have between you and others, the more careful you have to be, but also the more considerate.  Imagine how many fewer accidents there would be if everyone drove as if they had the same level of protection as a motorcyclist.

 

What if we all had one 800 numbers on the back of our cars saying “How am I driving?” How many of us would get complaints? What if police pulled people over for driving well? How many of us would get stopped then?

 

Here is a prayer to be said before starting your car:

Lord, help me to remember to be careful on this road. Help me to remember to look out for the safety of myself and for others. Help me to drive in a way that would bring honor to you.  Amen.

Not letting the disease win.

Sometimes my motivation to do something is simply so that the disease will not win.

I have bipolar disorder, which is a polite way of saying I am manic-depressive. I’ve noticed that I tend to become unbalanced when I stop taking care of myself. The biggest thing I can do to take care of myself is to make sure I get enough sleep and avoid stress. Eating well and exercising also help a lot.

It is easy to equate avoiding stress with not doing anything that is difficult. But to me that is letting the disease win. It is very important for me to not let it win so I set goals and reach for them so that I get stronger. And every time I achieve one of these goals it makes it easier for me the next time.

It makes it easier for me to look at this disease when it says “No, you can’t do that” or “That is too hard for you.” and say “But look at these four other things I’ve done and I did them just fine.”

That is why I take classes. One of the hardest classes was the pastoral care class that was downtown on Tuesday nights. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of taking a class every Tuesday for nearly three months. Then it was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of having to drive myself downtown at night. It was hard for me to even imagine asking my boss for that time off to do it. But I did it, and I did it because I knew that what I was doing was important. I did it because I didn’t want the disease to win.

While I knew that what I was going to learn from the class was going to be important, what I was going to learn from just attending the class was going to be even more important. It was going to teach me that I can take care of myself.

I used to be really good at driving. I used to drive myself everywhere alone for hours at a time. I drove by myself to Washington, DC work one summer. That was a 10 hour drive, one way.

But then something changed when my bipolar disorder manifested. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I went on a camping trip and I got so unwell that I had to be driven home. Everything I owned had to be packed up for me by my friends, and I had to have someone else take me home.

It affected me, not only because it was embarrassing, but also because I don’t want to be a burden to other people. I don’t want to get to a point where I have to have someone else rescue me. So it is important for me to not put myself in situations where I think I’m going to fail.

But that sometimes meant that for years I didn’t put myself in any situations at all. It meant that sometimes I only did things that were safe. And when I only do things that are safe, I don’t grow or get stronger.

And that is letting the disease win.

And I can’t let it win.