Another beautiful book for God’s children of all ages is Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth, by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
“When I was little, my Grandad was my best friend,” the narrator begins. “Grandad and I liked to go for walks in the woods together. We didn’t walk very far. Or very fast. Or very straight. While we walked, I would ask him questions about things I wasn’t sure of.”
On one of those walks, the boy asks about prayer, and the conversation unfolds in this book. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, Grandad explains what nature teaches us about prayer. Trees, for example, pray as they reach for heaven, and rocks are still and silent before God. Waters pray sometimes by silent reflection and sometimes by flowing and even leaping into the air. All creatures pray, Grandad says, and people pray in many ways. Watching the sunrise and saying hello to a new day is an ancient prayer. Holding hands around a table and giving thanks is one of the greatest prayers that people pray, he adds. The boy wonders whether our prayers are answered. Grandad’s answer is wise and full of grace.
There are more walks after that one, until the day when the grandson must cope with Grandad’s death. “I prayed and prayed and prayed until I couldn’t pray anymore,” says the boy. Indeed, he is unable to pray for a very long time. Now a teenager, at the end of the book, the grandson takes another walk in the woods where nature teaches him Grandad’s lessons again.
This moving book is a great resource for helping people think and talk about prayer, along with the themes of love and grief. I have read this book to groups of adults, who were deeply touched and began sharing their own struggles with prayer.
Sensitive illustrations in autumn tones allow the reader to watch as the boy grows up. They put us in touch with an amazing creation. In this book “all nature sings,” as the old hymn says. And I think Grandad is right: all nature prays, too.