As a young boy, I prayed every night for God to take my soul if I should die before I awoke. The prayer had little impact on my daily life. Now I am an elderly man with underlying health issues in the middle (or beginning) of a pandemic. My thoughts have turned to those elderly people in an assisted living or long-term care facility who face the real possibility of laying down at night and not seeing the dawn.

Sometime before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, I again started praying my boyhood prayer. In this historic time, the thought occurred to me to include my prayer along with another prayer which changes the focus from “I” to “others.” So, my additional prayer is “Now as they lay down to sleep, I pray the Lord their souls to keep. If they should die before they wake, I pray the Lord their souls to take.”

In my mind the prayer is universal to all, man or woman, who profess a belief in God. As an older person, the end of life is not a distant event, not necessarily dependent upon a pandemic. Pneumonia, a heart attack, a severe fall or some other health event lurks each day. The least that I can do now for others, particularly elderly folks, is to express in simple terms my fervent hope that God provides a source of comfort as they may face the end of life. I know that the promise of God to watch over my soul comforts me as I lay down to sleep each night.