A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Grace of Lament

The Grace of Lament. Have you ever been sick and tired and frustrated and distraught and isolated and at your whit’s end? Did you tell anyone? Did you tell God all about it? How did it feel to “let it all out”? Did you consider that a prayer? Did relief appear as a grace?

In each of our lives, things happen. Bad things. Difficult things. Hurtful things. Frightful things. What do we do when they all pile up? How can we as people of faith address these times in our lives when God’s love seems so distant, and we feel so isolated? Is there a way of speaking to God that will help us find an affirming path leading to life? The Psalmists took care of that for us. A good portion of the Psalms are laments. The dictionary defines “lament” as “to express grief for or about; mourn; to regret deeply; deplore; an expression of grief; a sorrowful song or poem.”

What good does it do for us to gnash our teeth, and pull at our hair, and wail? When the world piles on the trouble, the defeat, the worry, scream about it! Complain, go ahead. That’s right. It’s okay to tell God you are not happy with your situation and why. It’s okay to tell God how let down and isolated you’re feeling. The voices of the Psalmists as they lament are hard-edged, accusatory, questioning. However, if we keep reading those very Psalms, we see there is a pattern. Soon, certain ways of remedying the situation, or letting go of whatever caused the defeat, the trouble, or the worry, or a lesson about why it happened in the first place will appear. With those realizations come a glimmer of hope, light. With that hope and that light comes a way out. With that light, the presence of God is seen, the presence which has been there all along. This same pattern will emerge in our own lives, our own times of trouble. When we see that glimmer of hope and light, we will see the way out. We will begin to experience gratitude. When we are grateful, we see blessings all around us. When we see how blessed we are, suddenly all we can do is praise God! We realize that God has been with us, through the darkness, guiding us to the hope and the light. Just as suddenly, we realize we are out of the despair, riding on that hope and light.

So, what happens if we don’t lament? Unfortunately, it can take much longer to get to the stage of seeing what we did wrong (the lessons to be learned), what we can do to remedy the situation, what we need to let go of. It is only when we reach this stage that we can begin to see hope and light and take that step away from despair into gratitude. Yet this process doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Who listens to us when we lament? God? Yes. Who else? There are times when a hand to hold or a smile to behold while we’re lamenting is so helpful. Where can we find that listening ear, that hand or smile? If you’re a caregiver, sometimes that’s a problem. At First Christian Church of Decatur, we are developing a prayer partner program within our Caregiver Spiritual Support ministry. What does this mean? Are we going to be knocking on your door and praying our way in? No. Our prayer partners are listeners. We are responding to a call, to a need to listen to those whose voices are sometimes, oftentimes lost. Why are we calling the program a prayer partner program? Because each conversation, all the time spent with our ears open to hear that lament is time spent allowing the Spirit to carry those concerns, those worries, those problems to God with sighs and groans too deep for words. Seldom are a “Dear God” or an “Amen” needed. Yet, each of our prayer partners will be praying for a caregiver. Just lifting that individual up to God’s strengthening, comforting, powerful gaze.

Would you like to hear more? Would you like to find out more about being a listening prayer partner or let us know you are a caregiver needing someone to listen? If so, please contact me. I will be honored to listen.

No comments: