My Book of Uncommon Prayers: There is a line . . .

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There is a line in the sand, and I dare not cross—
but funny thing about sand and funny thing about lines,
they wash away with beating waves, leaving a skimming reflection where surety used to be. So maybe instead of lines in the sand, I should head into the surf and just ride out these waves.
But some days I feel more infidel than faithful.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.
Without You, I will sink in the undertow and be lost.
Are Your arms bigger than my sorrows, Your view wider than my narrow vision, Your heart tougher than my doctrine, Your compassion deeper than my loss, Your love hotter than my tears?
If there is a way that I must walk, can it be a yes-way, a water-walking way—a path of fullness and yeses.
So often I walk in these in-betweens, chained to an accumulated load that fills my soul with the hollow No.
Piercing doubt, filling, spilling. Knocked sideways. Sinking in the swells.
But I am ready for the Yes, Lord, not a way that seems right,
but is right.
No variance to the right or left, but straight-ahead trust
to joy, unspeakable peace, unbreatheable, that just is.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.

 

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Pain and Hope

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I woke suddenly in the wee hours, the dark hours. Was it the weird dream I was having? Maybe. But aside from that, I immediately was aware that I had passed the anniversary of my first child’s death and had not remembered.

That was what kept me awake.

I stopped hearing the heartbeat with my stethoscope on Nov. 18, ’74. The doctor confirmed my full-term child was dead on the 18th, and I gave birth to her on the 19th. Every year at this time, whether I say anything or not, the loss rises up. And though time has healed the rawness of the wound, the grief has always been there.

But not this year.

The loss of Noelle colored my whole life. It framed my internal dialogue with God about what is just and right, and what is love in His eternal economy.  I wrote a lot of songs. I wrote a lot of poetry. And I journaled the highs and lows of grappling with loss and disappointment. I processed a lifetime of questions. I railed and returned to the knee time and time again, knowing that He was there to meet me in my anguish and questioning.

Though it hurt to turn the grief over and over in my mind and art, the reality of it, in a strange way, is what gave me hope. There was the expectation that something so horrible would be made right at the end of all things. All the hard things would not be for nothing.

Pain and hope link arms, and it is what keeps you pressing on. It kept me pressing on.

To stop feeling the pain is to forget. And to forget is to become numb.

If I forget, I don’t care.

If I don’t care, I lose hope that things will ever be right.

The steady drip drip of loss joins the stream of all the other pains in my heart and in this world, and it would flow on and on unabated, swallowing up all the cries of us, the anonymous, if not for the glimpse of promise. I must believe that even if I stop feeling, His promise is stronger than my exhausted unbelief.

“Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.” ~~Mark 9:24

Lord, of the faithless, the weary wanderer, though I am apt to complain more than praise, don’t let me stop feeling the pain that reassures me I am connected and hoping for your kingdom to come. Be near me in the silence of my heart; speak love to me. Help me to not stop caring.     

 

 

 

Darkness Moves

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The darkness moves toward morning—sun and moon in their cycles,

and I in my bed lie awake with the constant thrumming of words in my head.

My body tosses and turns; my words toss and turn, and

sleep is an enemy, crouching far off, taunting.

Pain is magnified in the dark with no distractions. And

the aching in my head beats rhythm to the beats of my heart and the beating that I am giving my soul for regrets as

darkness moves toward morning.

Letting Go

 

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It’s like déjà-done this kind of thing—walked this path before, spouted this script before, destined to repeat over again

attachments and letting go,

hoping and hurting,

again and again,

pushing my rock to the crest only for it to slide back.

Is this punishment for choices made or just the way of things in this place?

Perhaps it’s just part of the deal, so we keep going,

keep trying,

trying to find our way out.

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Shadows Fall

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When dark shadows lengthen and pathways clash, we fight our way through,

each on his own,

but not,

bumping others, helping others, avoiding some; and

the destination is beyond this black—beyond these mere pinpricks of comprehension, beyond corrupted flesh, this plaguing weakness, this battle of Hyde and seek.

Shadows fall.

And we press on because there is no going back.

We press in to companions who are sure, until they

are not.

We press out, palms lifted to the One,

begging for a way through.

***********

Psalm 31:1: In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.

3: For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.

14-15a: But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;

For Something More

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I woke early in the dark and cold with only red numbers projected on the ceiling, confirming that yes, it is early, and yes, it is still dark 04 hundred.

I lie here awake. The pain has been my alarm, and I am so tired,

tired of tired,

tired of it. And I long for heaven.

When you are strong, heaven is an ever-after long time ahead—a warm, fuzzy promise for after I have collected all my joys

and toys

and am done with them, ready to move on. But as time wanes and the body fails,

what I have played with seems much more shallow;

what I thought would last forever is fading fast, and

my perspective is turned to what is ahead rather than what is behind

. . . or now.

And the nice ever after becomes a longing, and the firmly held hope becomes a thing of desperation because if there is nothing more—nothing beyond

this,

weakness,

betrayal,

the emptiness of Solomon days,

then there is no hope at all. It—

life—energies spent—

will have been the unproductive works of fools. And we will know that as we drift toward annihilation.

Hope makes sense of it.

God makes sense of it all.

Why would violence unsettle us?

Why would unfaithfulness feed bitterness in our hearts?

We might as well cry as laugh—just as well harm as help. Nothing would matter,

and yet it does.

Even those who profess a no-god know we are made for something more.

And Words Fall

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It’s like sign language in the fog;

it’s like shouting into the wind, this barely touch and go we do—

me vulnerable,

me exposed,

left soul-naked and alone. And words fall.

And I can’t care more than you about connection and communion, and

I can’t expect more from the unwilling. So should I stop talking, coming,

trying to imagine your silence might be full of concern, prayer, and even

love.

Though silence might not mean indifference, that’s what it feels like.

Though silence might not mean abandonment, that’s what it feels like. And

closing a door to a sliver of possibility is better than these quiet beatings,

these solo-sadnesses of what is repeated

time

after

time.