Blessed are the Sorrowing

Some five years ago, I came across a meditation on the Beatitudes.  Though I lost the pages, I did manage to write out part of it in a journal.  This is my prayer tonight—for me and for others in sorrow.  You see, last week I anointed people in my church community at worship.  They came with hurting hearts, troubled souls, physical ailments, internal struggle.  I let go of myself and made room for the Spirit to breathe life into those I prayed with.

Before worship I took a quiet moment to pray for strength and for peace to fill my body and soul.  I was empty that day, in need of healing myself.  I found, that the ministry of praying over others in their need filled me, and it was a blessing.  I found myself in many of the brokenness expressed, and I also found God.  This meditation describes the compassion in my heart…

Blessed are the Sorrowing: They Shall Be Consoled

And what does it mean to mourn? I asked the multitude.
An old man stepped forward

To mourn, he said, is to be given a second heart.
It is to care so deeply
that you show your ache in person

To mourn is to be uanshamed of tears.
It is to be healed
and broken
and built-up
all in the same moment.

Blessed are you if you can minister to others
with a heart that feels
with a heart that hurts
with a heart that loves
and blessed are you if you can minister to others
with a heart that serves
and a heart that sees the need before it’s spoken.

To mourn is to forget yourself for a moment
and get lost in someone else’s pain
and then,
to find yourself
in the very act of getting lost.

To mourn is to be an expert
in the miracle of being careful with another’s pain.

It is to be full of the willingness
of forever reaching out to
and picking up
and holding carefully
those who hurt.

To mourn is to sing with the dying
and to be healed
by the song
and the death.

— Marciana Wiederkehr, OSB

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I’m sure I shall see…

Words echo in my head, some of them unhealthy thoughts.  But some bring hope where hope is needed.  In moments alone in the house last night, a chant from the Taize Community came to mind, and I repeated it many times, singing aloud to myself.  The song continues in my head today.

The song (of what I can remember):  “I am sure I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Yes, I shall see the goodness of our God, hold firm.  Trust in the Lord.”

The words are from Psalm 27, which begins, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?”

Oh, have I repeated these words often!  Trouble is, I’m empty.  But I must continue to repeat; I believe, and I have hope.

I have just come from a 4-mile run.  The last mile I sang the song, over and over in my head.

“I am sure I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Yes, I shall see the goodness of our God, hold firm.  Trust in the Lord…

Mourning Tragedy

This morning I gather thoughts to finish a reflection paper on my recent synthesis project. However, images flood my heart and mind of the terrible natural disaster that has befallen Burma (sidenote: the ruling military Junta changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989–BBC News refers to the country as Burma, while American media choose Myanmar).  My heart hurts this morning; I grieve for those lost, for those without shelter or food.

This, on top of the monk protest back in September…

Why? O God, why? Over 22,000 confirmed dead from the cyclone, with that count expected to rise.  The Junta are slow to let aid into the country…people are dying, people are in need of care!

O God, where are you now?

light

On Grief, Part II: to fly away and rise again

fly away

6And I say, ‘O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;

Psalm 55:6-7

Death is frightening to face, and confusing for those still among the living. In mourning we cry out and wonder why…and while death does not make sense, there is meaning in life. Sometimes, however, terror takes over. As I walk through grief for some situations in my life, I remember Psalm 55. In the cold shelter of a somber memorial at the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany, I read this Psalm. Tears streaming down my face, I mourned for the millions, and reflected on an unimaginable terror. Why did such horrible events take place?

My heart grieves tonight for several reasons–remembering and honoring the dead, my own wounded past, and putting to death some plans that are unattainable. But even in grief, I hope. On a walk today I noticed new life in spring, as little baby ducks swam alongside their parents. With a sigh I wondered about the cycle of life and death, both physiologically and spiritually for us as humans. Life and death. So complex, so confounding. Life does spring where once was death…trees grow, our hearts heal, new relationships form…

buds
While this photo is of tulip buds and not wheat, I am reminded of an easter hymn, Now the Green Blade Rises:

When our hearts are wintry,
grieving, or in pain,
Christ’s touch can call us
back to life again,
fields of our hearts
that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.

Love is come again…that is my prayer tonight, that love may come again.  That I may face that which frightens me with courage, and that all who grieve this night may know the spring love rising from the earth.

It’s Epiphany: arise, shine…

awaken

Isaiah 60:1-6

60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Light Within My Darkness

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“In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

Barely past 5pm these days and already darkness falls here in Seattle. The winter darkness can be cold and lonely. I am reminded of the suffering of humanity, those who suffer depression, and the wounds of my own past. Yet also the winter can be a time for quiet contemplation and inner light. I’ve been thinking about this recently as I search for my own inner light amid a dark night of the soul. For me, some places in my journey have been dark, and at times terrifying. It is my faith that has sustained me; God is my light in dark times. In those times of darkness and winter, I did, as Camus said, find an invincible summer.

Today I found myself drawn to Psalm 13. It’s a lament that wonders, “how long?” How long must this sorrow in my heart continue? At the end, however, the writer sings to the LORD. I asked God this morning how long…how long must I hold this sorrow within? I doubt there will be an answer. What else is there to do but continue to walk the journey of life with hope for healing.Thomas R. Kelley in his book, A Testament of Devotion, writes,

“Meister Eckhart wrote, ‘As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.’ Deep witin us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice to which we may continuousy return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with imitations of an astounding destiny, calling home into Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.

Many times I have had to return to this inner sanctuary of the soul for healing. This light within has healed me and as a spiritual director I can walk with others in the healing process. This night I pray with a song, written by Sue Wallace in England (and arranged on a new CD from my church community, details forthcoming). It speaks to the healing within myself and what can happen in others:

Light within my darkness
Hope within my pain,
Truth within confusion
Let me live again.
Set me free,
O my Jesus
O my Jesus
Rescue me

warmth within my coldness
joy within my tears
peace within my anger
courage in my fear
set me free,
oh my Jesus
oh my Jesus
Rescue me

Praying a Psalm for Justice

This Psalm came in my inbox this morning, as part of a subscription for a daily Bible reading through the ELCA.  I pray this Psalm today,  as my heart and mind are praying for the people of Burma (Days of non-violent protest in the streets, led by Buddhist monks were met with violence by the ruling military…it’s not over yet).   To pray this is a challenge, as I find it difficult to praise God today, when I look around and see such horrible things.   Kyrie Eleison!

 Psalm 146

Justice to the oppressed

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!