How does one even begin to define the notion of prayer? Or even the notion of poetry itself? In examining such forms of expression, it can be noticed and argued that they possess incredibly similar foundations. Both prayer and poetry involve a simplified outer expression of amplified inner thoughts — even our reasoning for engaging in either practice shares some similarities. We can pray to revere, and we can write to release. We can write to preserve our most shining moments, and we can pray to relinquish control over the most disguised doubts we decide to give away. Prayer and poetry can serve as two distinct dialects of the “Reflection” language family.
With “Prayer of an Irish Hare,” this act of connecting both prayer and poetry was mainly inspired by the Biblical passage which states, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”1 While the context behind this statement was that this was Jesus’ response to what the Pharisees assumed was a form of misguided worship by the people of Jerusalem, on a purely whimsical level, another thought came about. If it is possible for stones to shout out and praise the Lord, then what else amongst God’s creation has the potential to express themselves similarly? More specifically, which of God’s creatures seemed the most relatable to the human race?
Elephants and whales might share our capacities for compassion and mourning, yet they remain in our collective sight as pillars of strength. Horses and dogs might share our capacities for friendship and trust, yet they might often seem better suited as role models for what the human spirit could become. Upon further reflection, none other than the plucky Hare seemed to embody the human spirit best. Similar to how hares always seem to be on their guard and frantically searching for the next thing, we as humans appear to mirror this behavior as we spend much of our lives learning about some form of tenacity in order to chase whatever we might desire.
The later choice to make the Hare “Irish” came from a variety of sources. Whether it was being inspired by the scrappy nature of the Puca of Celtic folklore, who were crafty, morally-ambiguous, shapeshifting creatures that often took the forms of horses and hares, or hearing the melodic-sounding prayers of Catholic friends and acquaintances, to even being inspired by the otherworldly joy of Irish films such as Song of the Sea and The Secret of Roan Inish, which both explore how regular people acclimate to discovering that they share connections with the mythical Selkies (seal-like shapeshifters also in Celtic folklore), as well as the poetry of acclaimed author, Seamus Heaney, who takes great pride in writing about connecting to Northern Ireland’s natural landscape and subtly unpacking the social effects.
The choice to evoke an Irish identity mainly came from respecting how in the process of engaging all of these inspirations, each one possessed an ethereal and sing-songy quality I hoped to reflect in the Hare’s prayer. It seemed wise that if the Hare were to go to the Lord in prayer, then his prayer could reflect the same sentiments that we humans express during our times of prayer. The Hare’s prayer needed to affirm God’s identity, give thanks for things in his personal life before asking for things such as forgiveness, protection, and guidance, before ultimately reaffirming his understanding in all that God has the power to accomplish.
In joining both prayer and poetry with the voice of this Irish Hare, the hope was to show how an understanding of faith and deeper expression can even come from the unlikely voice of a creature that we might not pay much attention towards. If the Bible hints at the possibility of stones shouting out in worship, then who’s to say whether such a profound level of worship can come from the voice of a hare … a plucky, pensive, down-to-earth, Irish hare.
Samuel Vega ‘22 is majoring in Creative Writing and minoring
in Spanish. He is from Holland, MI. We thank Dr. Pablo Peschiera (English) for his involvement with Samuel’s piece.
1 Luke 19:40