Special Issue - Prayer


By Jill Ragar Esfeld

LEAVENWORTH — Patti Davis, a member of Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish here, has a habit of blessing people, even when they don’t sneeze.

“I’m a third order Carmelite,” she said. “Our charism is contemplative and in the world.”

One of the ways Davis lives that charism is by encountering people, engaging them in genuine, caring conversation, and blessing them.

“One day, I thought to myself, ‘Why should I wait till somebody sneezes to bless them?’” she said. “So that’s how it started. And I do it to every single person I talk to.”

Davis thinks of it as a walking prayer. And she’s been walking this prayer for 12 years now.

“We have a riverfront here in Leavenworth,” she said. “Lots of people walk right here. And so I try to walk on that several times a week.”

When she encounters someone, she stops and asks them how they’re doing — and she does so with genuine interest.

“I’ll ask, ‘How are you doing?’ and have a little conversation,” she said. “So many people have problems in the world.

“We all need to take a few minutes to talk to our fellow men and women.”

Before she walks away, Davis always says, “God bless you.”

“One man said, ‘Gosh, I can’t think of the last time anybody blessed me — and I really needed that,’” she said.

Davis believes in showing compassion and kindness toward all people. She knows not everyone she encounters is a Christian, but most everyone believes in God.

“So ‘God bless you’ includes everyone,” she said. “People don’t always want to hear preaching — they just want to hear kindness in somebody’s voice.

“And maybe they’ll take it from there, and be kind to the next person.”

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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