My Review of Samuel Johnson’s Prayers and Meditations

Doctor Johnson's PrayersDoctor Johnson’s Prayers by Samuel Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote to his friend Norman Malcolm that Samuel Johnson’s Prayers And Meditations was one of his favorite books. He noted that he appreciated the honesty of the prayers and had adopted some of them for his own. I find myself with the same appreciation, having been not only moved by the prose but also feeling a kinship with Johnson’s humanness, his continuation over a period of years to fighting the same temptations and habits, his undying love and prayers for his late wife, his guilt at unmet duty and unfulfilled destiny. An humbling book and you don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate it, just human.

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2 thoughts on “My Review of Samuel Johnson’s Prayers and Meditations

  1. Hello Bruce,

    Everyone is different, and no one can say they fully understand what you are going through or have gone through in dealing with your loss.
    Sharing had helped us, as well, but hasn’t entirely healed the profound psychological and spiritual injuries (and even physical ones) we experienced at the loss of one we loved and cherished more than our own lives.
    After the sudden and unexpected loss of our bright, beautiful, loving, nine-year-old granddaughter and custodial child, Kristen, I tried to choke down the grief long enough to notify friends and family, and make the funeral arrangements. Instead of succeeding, I could only croak when speaking, and my uvula swelled so greatly I had trouble swallowing. I needed a steroid shot to enable me to manage the funeral, our business and communications with family, friends and well-wishers.
    We were readying a scheduled shipment for our mail-order business, and I couldn’t force myself to focus on that task. We rarely made a mistake in our shipments of their essential supplies to our diabetic customers, but we later learned we had made an even dozen shipping errors, for which we could only apologize and rectify the problems.
    Even now, over ten years later, we can engage in only very short conversations about Kristen without losing our composure and our ability to speak about her; but, over time, we have learned to somewhat deal with our loss. What option do we have?
    Two years after we lost Kristen, Anita, a friend, lost her daughter, Danielle, after a five year battle with breast cancer. Anita was so devastated she was avoiding contact with everyone. Danielle, a beautiful young woman, was also our friend. She had traveled over five hundred miles with Anita to be with us at the public visitation when Kristen was killed, even while Danielle was battling cancer (Kristen had been offering a nightly prayer for Danielle’ recovery.). Mary Ann, and I wanted Anita to know that while we couldn’t feel what she was feeling, we understood at least some of what she was dealing with. This is what I sent Anita:

    So Great the Loss

    by Fred Keener

    Her spirit soars. Her spirit is free.
    The pain she bore can no longer be.
    Yet, no one knows the anguish you feel.
    No one can tell you how to heal.

    An empty room – the silence screams
    about the loss of hopes and dreams.
    Rushing memories chaotically swirl
    and little matters in this world.

    You must let go – many will say –
    though it will never happen that way.
    The pain of loss will come and go,
    as the healing balm of time will show.

    A measure of peace God will restore,
    as you treasure memories more and more,
    while that special part of you held dear
    becomes even more special year after year.

    So great the loss, that of a child.
    So great the void to bear this while
    until her hugs once more you know
    in sweet reunion your love to show.


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