Loss and Mystery
This week my hometown community lost someone very special-my childhood pastor, my only pastor, really. A man who was exceedingly loving and kind and passionate. He devoted his life to his church and to his faith. His family was a pillar in the faith community. He was the type of father a fatherless daughter couldn’t help but envy.
When I finally allowed myself to feel the loss it came in waves. My sadness and heartbreak turned into confusion- How? How could this happen to someone who was so faithful? If anyone deserved healing it was this man. If any family deserved a miracle it was this family.
This loss came on the heels of a rather rough few weeks for me. You may have noticed I’ve missed a few scheduled posts. Been a little absent. A little off the radar. I’ve brushed it off as “being in a funk” or “seasonal depression”- and that’s probably part of it. But underneath that is something more.
This suffering is getting to me. Whether its close to the heart like a pastors passing, on a national scale in politics, or globally- I’ve felt a deep darkness settle on my heart. A heaviness.
I’m usually in my head, in my safe place of theology and reading, and figuring things out. Rarely do I let myself go down into my heart, because that’s where the scars are. Because sometimes, if I’m honest, it feels like God just doesn’t show up anymore. I look around and see the suffering and feel lost. And I don’t know what to do with that. It’s the suffering of #metoo, ridiculous tax plans, and a new act of national terrorism monthly. Right now, it doesn’t feel like love trumps hate. It doesn’t feel like faith trumps suffering. It’s less to do with my own personal pain, and more about what’s right and just in the world.
I just don’t get it sometimes.
A Psalm for the Heartbroken and Lost
Sitting in my apartment, shedding tears for a family I grew up with, shedding tears for all ways I feel lost, I turned to the Psalms. I did not look for coffee tumbler quips or tweetable fluff, but for those few Psalms of David’s anger. The verses that rage against the Mystery of God. Based on a post by a dear friend and spiritual guide, I set about writing my own inspired rage. Pouring into it the weeks of darkness and abandonment.
A Psalm for the Heartbroken and Lost: Inspired by Psalm 44
God, with my own ears I have heard what others have said about you.
How you came to their rescue and healed their sick.
You, with your own hands, sent illness away where it had taken root
And made the sick flourish once more.
It was not by their own power,
Nor science alone;
It was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face.
For you loved them.
You are Creator
You are the Universe unfolding in our favor
It is with You we overcome
Our anxiety, our trauma, and our pain.
I do not put my trust in self-help books or politicians
I know inspirational tweets and infographics will not bring me victory
It is You.
It is in the Ultimate Power
In Father, Mother, Infinite Unknown
That I have boasted all day long
Forever seeking more of the Mystery.
You failed to come through.
And oh how I thought you would.
Have you kept your help from us to humble us?
Have you turned your back?
Prayers have gone
You did not come to the rescue.
Even though we have not forgotten you
Decades of lives lived following Your call
Hearts had not turned back
feet had not strayed from Your path.
But you –
You crushed the hope
You covered it over with deep darkness
All the while knowing we were earnestly praying
Knowing we had mountains of faith
Why should I keep putting my heart in your hands
Like a sheep to the slaughter?
Where is the comfort I have heard of?
Don’t you care about what happens to my heart?
Do not leave me alone in this misery and heartbreak.
I am on the ground, confused and cursing.
Covered in darkness
Once again wondering “why?”
Trying to make sense of suffering.
Show up because of your unfailing love.
Rescue my heart with the light of Your face
Light of the World, You Stepped Down into Darkness
I was going to end this post here. Pretty raw, pretty vulnerable, “I know it ain’t pretty but thats what I got”. But while writing this I was listening to Spa Radio on Pandora (judge me if you will). I was also texting my friend looking for an objective, rational answer to my pain. “You can’t think your way out of pain but you may be able to worship you way out like Job and David.”
…and not 5 minutes later.
Not 5 minutes after typing:
Show up because of your unfailing love.
Rescue my heart with the light of your face”
Not 5 minutes after raging against Mystery and suffering and pain, “Here I am To Worship” came on the radio. On my Spa Radio station on Pandora. My usual crystal bowls-rain sounds-ocean waves-hippy dippy, radio station suddenly played an early 2000’s worship song. A song I sang hundreds of times at the very church with the pastor who just passed.
“Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You”
I’m not a person who reads into things like this. I’m just not. I grew with a sincere aversion to stories like this. I mean come on. But when you are re-building your faith, when your traditional box of how God works has been shattered, I don’t know. If God can through a donkey, maybe God can talk through internet radio. I stared at the screen dumbfounded as the song finished and the station went back to playing ocean waves.
Mystery, and suffering, and pain, and loss, and confusion, and abandonment, and trauma, and shame, and guilt, and, and, and… It goes on. I know it goes on. I know we are all at some point on the ground confused and cursing and covered in darkness begging for something, anything to show up.
And one song on the radio doesn’t prove anything.
But maybe, if you let it, it does.
Maybe, when we chose this dance of faith we see how the Great Unknowable steps down into darkness just to be with us. We see death as the end of suffering, as a mercy. We see the thousand small ways people show up to help after a disaster. We see homes rebuilt, people fed, children adopted, family forgiven. We see friends who love, flowers that bloom, and books that save. Maybe we start to see the Light.
I’m not naive. A mystical moment doesn’t negate global suffering. But maybe if I let it, my eyes can be opened to see the beauty all around, inside the suffering and out.
If nothing else, I don’t feel quite as abandoned in suffering as I did before.
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