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and joy deep down inside


I don’t remember what he said, every night when he prayed for my sister and me in our double bed, except for one thing: Daddy’s prayers always ended with the same request.
“I pray that they would wake up in the morning,” he’d say, “with smiles on their faces, and songs in their hearts, and joy deep down inside.”
We weren’t a liturgical family.  We shied away from all that denominational mess in favor of The Bible.  My Sunday School teacher Miss Janie created her own curriculum, taking us through every story in the Book, even (and memorably) the one where Jael hammered a tent peg through Sisera and the one where Ehud’s sword was swallowed up by Eglon’s rolls of fat. On Sunday mornings we sang praise choruses and old Baptist hymns to the rhythm of acoustic guitar.  Once a month we passed around plates of oyster crackers and plastic cups of grape juice, and when it came time for baptism, Daddy did mine, out on the Frio River.
I loved God, and the church, and the stories I learned.  But as a teenager I began to yearn for tradition and liturgy...