‘Help’ is a prayer we all need

We can say a little prayer even if we are not believers: “Help” is a great prayer. “Help me, help me, I am a completely doomed human” is even better. When my then six-year-old son got his head stuck in the bars of a chair at the dining table of some friends we were visiting, he went unnoticed for a time, and then a tiny voice piped up and said, “I need help with me.” The friends had this calligraphied and framed for us. I say it at least once a month.” —Anne Lamott

There’s a conversation in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” between a fashion magazine editor and her new assistant that explains how a seemingly random choice was actually anything but random.

The assistant wore a “cerulean” blue sweater, which her boss explained didn’t casually end up in her closet, but instead “was selected for (her) by the people in the room from a pile of stuff” years earlier.

It was a choice about fashion and color that trickled down slowly from the runway to bargain bins, and while the assistant was completely unaware, helped to shape her personal shopping choices.

This movie is one that freezes my remote when it’s on. No matter which scene I stumble across, I have to see the movie to the end. Which is to say, I’ve seen it more times than necessary. When I recently heard that particular line about the sweater again, it took on a new meaning. We are heading into Thanksgiving season, when we designate a specific day to be thankful for all the glorious things that make up our lives.

Just in the nick of time.

Because if there was a way to combine the content of conversation and ear pollution that’s been present in the general population for the past several months, stuff it into a press and squeeze out a single word encompassing the weight of it all, I think it might just be this one:


According to writer Anne Lamott, “help” is a prayer. A one-size-fits-all, substantial, organic and complete prayer.

That seems like a reasonable place to start for the seasons of giving.

Not: HELP!

Just: Help.

Save the exclamation point and all caps. (Actually, throw out the all caps altogether. Nobody likes to be yelled at.)

Just quietly, calmly and wholeheartedly speak it. Then listen for a response. Maybe stepping back and choosing carefully what we focus on right now will trickle down—not unlike a fashion giant deciding cerulean blue will be the new “it” color—and help shape our lives, or at least attitudes, in the upcoming days, months and year.

What harm could it do? I’ll start.

Help. Convince the powers that be to stop using fear to drive headlines. If that doesn’t work, may I only click onto Hallmark or HGTV. And NBC on Tuesday nights at 8.

Help. I need to remember, as we face gigantic holiday meals, to value quality over quantity.

Help. Remind us at just the right times to put kindness before pretty much everything else.

Help. Be with those who still wear shorts outside when it hits 30 degrees. That’s not a priority, I just don’t get it.

Help. I don’t want to thoughtlessly judge other people’s choices. This is a tough one. But whether it’s a sweater color, a political viewpoint, a parenting style, or short pants in a blizzard, help me to ask myself if I’m in a position to decide if any of that is wrong.

Used correctly and often, the effect of an all-inclusive, one-word prayer might trickle down and help form a more peaceful 2017. Or at least a smooth December 2016. I’m in if you are.


Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.

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