Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Follow-Up on That Opening Prayer at the House

As you know, I was scheduled to do the opening prayer at the Ohio House of Representatives today. It turned out to be a wonderful experience.

My Dad went with me and I hadn't known until I arrived to pick him up today that in spite of being a resident of Columbus for fifty-two years, he had never been to the State Capitol building. As we walked away, I commented that I couldn't believe he'd never been there before. "Well," he said, "I was busy raising a family." May the people in that gorgeous Capitol building always remember that they're employees of folks who, like my father, work hard to live their lives and to do right by their families, neighbors, friends, and communities!

When Dad and I first arrived, we went to the little Capitol building restaurant in the basement below the Rotunda. We wanted something to stave off hunger until I was finished praying. It was a good decision on our parts!

Snack finished, ready to go to the House, and turned around by all the refurbishing that's been done to the place since I worked there, I asked a young woman waiting for an elevator how to get to the House chamber. "Just follow me," she told us. "That's where I'm heading." When we got to the chamber, a House page approached her for instructions. "A page," I said, "I used to be the page supervisor." "That's what I do," she told me. "Oh," I said to my dad, "one of my successors." Turning back to her, I said, "I left here in 1979." She smiled and said, "That was the year I was born." I laughed and told her, "You really didn't have to tell me that."

When Representative Joe Uecker introduced me at the beginning of the session, he couldn't resist telling his colleagues that I had worked there a long time ago.

The original plan had been for us to meet Representative Uecker's aide, Sheila Ross, about fifteen minutes prior to the session. But we arrived very early. We did though, get the chance to meet her. She was the one who really had done all the work necessary for making our visit there go smoothly and I don't remember if I actually thanked her when she introduced herself to my Dad and me.

As I mentioned yesterday, the start of today's session was to be delayed from 11:00AM to 1:00PM. But as it turned out, it started even later than that, owing to last minute negotiations on pending legislation. (It should be added that under the current speaker, Jon Husted, sessions generally get started on time. But the close of General Assembly sessions always bring last-minute compromises and accomodations.)

While there, I had the chance to chat with Ohio Public Radio's Bill Cohen, a guy I had met several times back in the day. He was a friend of my old pal, Howard Ornstein, and the three of us even went to a Columbus Clippers game or two together. (I don't think Bill remembered me. But I have the advantage over him. While I left Columbus and the State House long ago, I've been listening to his radio reports every weekday in the intervening twenty-seven years!) But I had to ask Bill if he still plays folk music and he confirmed that. "I used to say, 'Let's play some folk music for the young people.'" he told me. "Now I say, 'Let's play some folk music for the old people!'"

It was also good to see and talk with Brad Young, House Clerk, a friend of several members of the congregation I serve here. Brad and I got to know each other when I co-presided at the wedding of his friends. He and his wife and my wife, my family, and I stayed at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Loudonville on the night before that wedding.

My Dad and I also spoke with several staffers and House members before Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Blasdel brought down the gavel to begin the session. (Husted walked in a few moments later.)

It was great of Representative Joe Uecker to take the time to speak with us. He commented, "What I wouldn't give to be able to spend time with my Dad the way you're getting to do with yours today, Mark." It was good.

After we left, Dad and I met up with a dear friend of mine since high school days, Tom Carr. I showed them around the Capitol and the old Supreme Court building. Then, we trekked to the Max and Erma's at City Center just to catch up. I couldn't believe that Tom took the time to come to the Capitol just to hear me lead the House in prayers. But then, I have always been blessed with truly fantastic friends!

Okay, enough rambling. Here's the prayer in its entirety:
Lord, as this General Assembly session draws slowly to a close, we ask for three things for the members of both the House and the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats.

First: We ask for You to give them the wisdom to discern the difference between what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s unnecessary.

Second: We ask that You would also give them the clear-headedness and the courage they need to vote with that wisdom.

Finally: We ask that their wills will be open to whatever guidance You want to give to them. We can ask for nothing more. Amen
Several Ohio bloggers expressed interest in what I might pray and wondered what they would say if they were in my place. (See here and here.)

As of this writing, the House is still in session, trying to wrap up the 126th. General Assembly. But as soon as today's session is archived, you'll be able to see and hear the prayer here.

[UPDATE: See here.]


Dan said...

It sounds like you had a great day on many levels. Congrats!


Mark Daniels said...

It was a very good day. Thanks!


Anonymous said...


What a wonderful time, looking backwards and enjoying the present. You offered a very approprirate prayer, too.