Remembering How to Pray

Remembering How to Pray by Heidi Fettig Parton

By Heidi Fettig Parton

In the middle of September, you are in the backyard on your knees. You are not praying, but perhaps you should be. Bended knees can lift up, bended knees can kill.

The world, heavy with sorrow; you persist.

Using your gloved hand, you dig out still-green clover and dandelions where they encroach on your garden. Yet, these have no lesser claim to the earth than the marigolds, squash, and beets.

Your grandmother pickled beets on the North Dakota plains. Those ruby circles were heaped in an unwelcome pile on your dinner plate. But all things, even taste buds, evolve. Now beets taste like the dark soil of memory. Their earthy flavor roots you to a lineage come and gone.

You turn the soil over, awakening the freshness of tepid air after a rain, uncovering thick, long earthworms in the clumps of rich earth. Earthworms have not eyes, but light receptors, alerting them to darkness and light.

Whenever you encounter an earthworm trapped in the center of a concrete sidewalk in the morning sun, dried out but still wriggling, you use a foraged stick to gently lift the struggling worm to a dew-covered patch of grass.

You know the aching pull of home, the pain of displacement, however brief. Is this still my country, you ask?

Like muddied worms, your vision is impaired. Perhaps by clouds. Perhaps by the hazy smoke of fires out West reaching your landlocked Midwestern town. This year has seemed a tunnel with no end. You imagine growing your own receptors of light to lead you through.

Here on your knees in the garden, you tap into a small, nascent shift toward the sacred interconnectedness of all things; you reach for that ancient circle of belonging.

You are made of clay and love and delight. Remember this.

Scooping handfuls of dirt, you fortify your soul for the tasks awaiting you in the future, where you will slowly wind your way, where you will—upon arriving—bend your knees in prayer.

About the Writer:
Heidi Fettig Parton
received an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bay Path University in 2017. Her writing can be found in many publications, including Assay Journal, Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, Angels Flight, literary west (AFLW), The Manifest-Station, and The Rumpus. More at