Grant Me Serenity


by John C. Westervelt


     Nelda stood back eyeing the location of the six inch tile that I held in place on the wall in our kitchen eating area.  I made a mark with a pencil and drove a nail.  For thirty years, I seldom read the words in blue calligraphy on the white tile.

     When God selected the traits He mixed to create me, He put in an overly generous amount of empathy.  Forever, I was a weak hospital visitor.  After the Oklahoma City bombing I mailed my daughter a picture of the fireman rescuing a baby.  When I later learned that the baby died, I called Mary Kim and told her not to open the envelope.  In time, my doctor sent me to counseling to recover from the impact of the bombing on me.

     In time, life was good once more.  Then my colleagues and I began moving through our seventies with increasing medical problems.  My friend Ken Bays had been fighting bone cancer for most of a year.  On the last evening of February, Sheila called and said, “Ken died an hour ago.  He is not having that terrible pain anymore.”  For many weeks, the brave face of Sheila Bays has been implanted in my mind and viewed throughout each day.

My friend Bill Mason has suffered a long siege of shingles that sapped his strength for months.  Bill’s prayer in the Joy Community each Sunday covers a dozen class members with health concerns.

     A few months ago, I stopped to read the words on the white tile in my kitchen eating area:


“God grant me the Serenity

to accept the things

I cannot change, Courage to

change the things I can,

and Wisdom to know the



     These words became my prayer throughout the day.  God has granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  With this new found peace, I am able to offer more comfort to my friends in need.



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