The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A week of small observations with sons: Not alone

Rachael Conlin Levy

In which we learn of a deadly explosion and decide to pray

I’m reading the book “Beginner’s Grace” by Kate Braestrup and a couple days ago decided to memorize the Prayer to be said at the Sound of a Siren. I didn’t expect to share it with my sons over breakfast, but this morning’s report of the bombing at the Boston Marathon commanded their attention. As they studied the photographs and read the victims’ accounts, I remembered what Braestrup wrote about Mr. Fred Rogers’ experience as a child at the theater:

The feature would be preceded by a cartoon and then a newsreel, which, Mr. Rogers reports, was usually pretty awful, especially for a little kid to see. During one particularly heartrending newsreel, Mr. Rogers’s mother leaned over to her son, “Look for the helpers,” she advised in a whisper.

Lo and behold, in the midst of whatever mayhem was unfolding, little Fred would always be able to find someone — a firefighter, an ambulance driver, a passerby — trying to help.

Bless Mrs. Rogers! What wonderful advice to give a child — comforting and inspiring. I gave her advice to my own children to help them when the news was bad.

In the morning, my five-year-old and I looked for the helpers in the news photo that dominated the front page. In the evening, I heard my 11-year-olds in the kitchen, helping each other commit to memory the lines we’d recited over dinner.

Prayer to be said at the Sound of a Siren

God grant courage to those who suffer;
Strength and peace to those who help.

Author’s note: It’s the school’s spring break, and I’m alone with my three boys. This is a diary of our adventures.

2 responses to “A week of small observations with sons: Not alone”

  1. Nice job dealing with a difficult situation, Rachael. Imagining your 11-year-olds spending their time memorizing together is pretty darn cool.

  2. Beth says:

    I have loved Mr. Rogers as a child and as an adult. How fortunate he was to have such a wise and thoughtful mother. Ah,this post made me cry. Thank you for sharing this moment and the prayer- I think I’d like to use it,too.

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