Poison Pie Publishing House: A Prayer for the Lost

A Prayer for the Lost

But calm reflection will show that destiny
was to blame for Actaeon's misfortunes,
not any guilt on his own part;
for there is nothing sinful in losing one's way.
-The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Book III, completed AD 8,
trans. Mary M. Innes, Penguin Books, London, 1955.

Lord, You already know how this prayer ends,
though I have not yet written it. You see
through it just as You see through me
from beginning to end, witnessing each weakness

and error without a single omission,
without the occasional lapse of attention
that might allow one such transgression
to slip by unnoticed. This bothers me

not in the least for the error I bring to You now
is so ubiquitous that You would have to have
turned Your back to me all the seconds of my life
for You to remain unaware of it. This sin

of which I speak is not listed among the deadly sins.
You did not urge Moses to warn us against it
when he committed to stone Your commandments.
No, this sin that so heavily rests on my conscience

is only having lost my way, a common foible,
without distinction, to be sure. I find no
instruction for redemption from this error
in the books that fill Your sacred tome.

Instead, I discover comfort in the words
of a contemporary of Your holy son,
an ancient heathen, who tells me again and again,
"there is nothing sinful in losing one's way."

Lord, I have lost my way. If Ovid was right
and there is no error to forgive, then grant
me the serenity to accept that I am adrift,
without hope of reclaiming my bearings.

If Ovid was wrong and losing one's way
is, in fact, a sin, even a venial sin,
then allow me to accept that I have lost Your grace,
and drain from me the drive to rediscover it

for today I have behind me an entire life,
epitomized by this absence of direction,
and to abandon this principle now seems
a greater betrayal than closing myself to You.

A Prayer for the Lost
David Keffer
Knoxville, TN
October 13, 2014