Remembering Brian Doyle

This is my post for Memorial Day. Rather than reading my words, read these words from Brian Doyle, a wonderful writer and person, who left us much too soon.

Last Prayer

by Brian Doyle

Dear Coherent Mercy: thanks. Best life ever.

Personally I never thought a cool woman would come close to understanding me, let along understanding me but liking me anyway, but that happened!

And You and I both remember that doctor in Boston saying polite but businesslike that we would not have children but then came three children fast and furious!

And no man ever had better friends, and no man ever had a happier childhood and wilder brothers and a sweeter sister, and I was that rare guy who not only loved but liked his parents and loved sitting and drinking tea and listening to them!

And You let me write some books that weren’t half bad, and I got to have a career that actually no kidding helped some kids wake up to their best selves, and no one ever laughed more at the ocean of hilarious things in this world, or gaped more in astonishment at the wealth of miracles everywhere every moment.

I could complain a little right here about the long years of back pain and the occasional awful heartbreak, but Lord, those things were infinitesimal against the slather of gifts You gave mere me, a muddle of a man, so often selfish and small. But no man was ever more grateful for Your profligate generosity, and here at the very end, here in my last lines, I close my eyes and weep with joy that I was alive, and blessed beyond measure, and might well be headed back home to the incomprehensible Love from which I came, mewling, many years ago.

But hey, listen, can I ask one last favor? If I am sent back for another life, can I meet my lovely bride again? In whatever form? Could we be hawks, or otters maybe? And can we have the same kids again if possible? And if I get one friend again, can I have my buddy Pete? He was a huge guy in this life–make him the biggest otter ever and I’ll know him right away, okay? Thanks, Boss. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. See You soon.

Remember–otters. Otters rule. And so: amen.

By | 2017-05-29T14:11:13+00:00 May 29th, 2017|Blog|31 Comments

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  1. Rita Meacham May 29, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    This is one of the loveliest eulogies I’ve ever read. Good for him. A good life. All except the otters.

  2. Heidi Stauff May 29, 2017 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    I hope I can be as grateful and humble when my time comes. Beautiful.

    • Lee Martin May 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      It must take a special kind of person.

  3. Gm. May 30, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

    I learned today that Brian died. Learned from a book-selling friend of mine, who reminded me of Brian’s introduction to Pico Iyer at his University of Portland talk that we attended some years ago. On my shelf, I still have his Grace Notes to read. Next to Leap of Faith. He puts the Spirit in me–he inspires me–with his joyful words. Like those above.

    • Lee Martin May 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply


  4. Judy Westerman May 30, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    What a lovely, heart-wise man. He had the gift of reflecting back people’s souls and of sharing the best of his life experiences. I’ll be watching for him soaring through the sky.

  5. Denise Morris May 31, 2017 at 2:20 am - Reply

    I’ve read Brian Doyle’s devotions in Guide Posts Daily Devotions for years. he always gave me joy and something to ponder. I will miss him.

    • Lee Martin May 31, 2017 at 11:30 am - Reply

      Indeed, Denise.

    • Gail July 4, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

      I, too, came to love Brian Doyle’s writing through Daily Guideposts. I’m so sorry he’s gone from this world. He made me appreciate it all the more.

      • Lee Martin July 5, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

        Thank you for your comment, Gail.

  6. Beth June 21, 2017 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    thank you for posting this lovely “Last Prayer” – I’ve been keeping an eye out for what I expected from Brian – a thankful, I’ll-see-you-soon type piece to leave with the world. Brian gave so much of himself to all of us, and especially to my students – he woke them up and changed them, and he’ll continue to do that even after his death because he lives through his words and in the hearts of all of us who knew him. Thank you.

    • Lee Martin June 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Beth, thank you so much for adding your thoughts.

  7. […] Brian Doyle’s last poem […]

  8. Susan Mattix July 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I loved the University of Portland journal because of Brian Doyle. I so often deeply resonated with his journals and I loved the way he celebrated so many different kinds of people. I treasured the article on the Portland woman with Downe Syndrome. His writings showed me the depth of Jesus’s heart for people and I’m grateful. Trust Brian had a great homecoming and that the same love that welcomed him is surrounding his lovely wife and children.

    • Lee Martin July 24, 2017 at 7:19 am - Reply

      Thank you so much for this, Susan.

  9. Thomas August 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 eywjc

    • Lee Martin August 24, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

      Thank you, Thomas.

  10. Janet Schrader August 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    I JUST learned about Brian’s passing from receiving 2018’s Daily Guideposts book.
    I am heartsick…for his family and for all of us who were so enriched by his writings.
    I will cherish the words he shared with us and have no doubt that his Creator welcomed him with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    Brian Doyle—THANK YOU for sharing yourself with us. We are better people for it.

    Janet S.

    • Lee Martin August 24, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

      Thank you for this, Janet.

  11. elsie wright December 14, 2017 at 1:02 am - Reply

    How very sad that there won’t be any more books of Brian’s to read. I have most of them and reread them over and over.
    I found about about his illness and death in October and have had a sadness of the soul ever since.
    God bless him and may he be with the Lord and some otters!
    My heartfelt sympathy to his wife and children and close friends.


    • Lee Martin December 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Amen, Elsie!

  12. Debera Molohon December 26, 2017 at 3:09 am - Reply

    So sad to find out today that Brian Doyle died. He was such a refreshing breath of fresh air, generously giving a new insight into living that expanded my views when I read his devotions in Daily Guideposts.

    • Lee Martin December 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Debera, it was such a loss.

  13. Karen Schumaker December 27, 2017 at 7:48 am - Reply

    My mother-in-law gave me my 2018 Daily Guideposts for Christmas yesterday. As I read the introduction last night, I was saddened to learn of Mr. Doyle’s passing. I will look forward to coming upon his passages in the coming year; they have always been among my favorites. Mr. Doyle always struck me as a kind,sweet, thoughtful man; thank you for sharing his Last Prayer, further confirmation of same.

  14. Carol Ann Anderson January 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    I too, just read of his passing when I started my new Guidepost Devotional yesterday! Brian Doyle became a friend to many of us, who experienced his Devotionals.
    The eulogy was beautiful..,God be with his precious family.

    • Lee Martin January 2, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      All blessings to you, Carol Ann.

  15. Judy Petrazio January 6, 2018 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    I too just read the intro to the new 2018 Guideposts and learned of Brian Doyle’s departure from this realm. It has left my heart hurting and my spirit saddened. I must admit I quickly sought out and read his new entries. He has always enriched and enlightened me with his insights and wit. Now at age 74 I will began for the first time to read his books and collections. Guideposts led me to him in the recent past. I know his family must have holes in their hearts, too; I pray for their healing and comfort.

    • Lee Martin January 6, 2018 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Blessings on you, Judy.

  16. Kim langley February 1, 2018 at 12:46 am - Reply

    I was looking for a quote by Brian who quickly became one of my all-time favorite writers after I read Martin Marten. In that book I Discovered a soulso large that just reading his books made me a better person. To read his work is to feel as if you have met him and when I learned he was ill like all the other commenters I was heart sick and prayed for him and his family. But only now do I see this last prayer and I’m so grateful that you posted it. I have friends I will share it with now and I know that it will enhance my retreat work. There’s something about it that calls one to expand the heart, that blessed “wet engine”.

    • Lee Martin February 1, 2018 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Indeed it does, Kim. That prayer, I mean. Thanks for taking the time to make this comment.

  17. Jonas February 5, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    This prayer is the last prayer in Doyle’s A Book of Uncommon Prayer (published in 2015 before his diagnosis). The book is filled with wonderful prayers like this.

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