Diane Ackerman

School Prayer

Diane Ackerman: School Prayer
Diane Ackerman

Listen to this outside, somewhere peaceful, where you can let your senses roam.

Artist’s Note

“Years ago, when Congress was thinking about reinstating school prayer, I was asked to compose one. I believed in the separation of church and state as our founding fathers did, and I didn’t want children having to pray to someone else’s idea of God. But I did want them to develop a sense of spirituality – about the planet and each other. So, I wrote this poem.

“I invite you to take this as a meditation. You might listen to the insinuations of birds and feel the hot breath of sun on your cheek. Or look very closely at a single facet of nature – a flower, a snail, a leaf. Maybe notice all the surprising things that squirrels can do with their tails. Then think about your loved ones, and open your heart to them, and to all of humankind, and to our plant and animal neighbors, too. The whole tapestry of life on earth. And then listen to this poem.”

About the Artist

Diane Ackerman, a member of the Academy and of the Commission on the Arts, is an essayist, memoirist, poet, and nature writer. 

Diane Ackerman

Academy Member
Commission Member

Additional Notes

Photography and video by Sue Michlovitz 

Excerpt from I Praise My Destroyer by Diane Ackerman. Copyright © 1998 by Diane Ackerman. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House LLC.  

Commission on the Arts

The Commission - drawing on the expertise of its members who are artists, scholars, activists, and leaders, as well as the input of people across the country who participated in listening sessions - dedicated itself to recognizing and supporting the essential role of the arts and artists in American life.