This past Sunday, when I shared the news with folks at The Dale that Erinn’s husband Dion is in the hospital due to his worsening MS, the reactions varied from shock to sadness to anger. One friend’s response was “well #@&!, thanks for showing up for Dion, God.” An honest prayer. While I trust that God is working in the life of the Oxford family, it’s undeniably difficult to imagine why God hasn’t made things easier for these three precious people.
Later that same day I was at Sanctuary and a dear friend sat down next to me. He was under the influence, which brought his deep feelings to the surface. He expressed his love for those around him, as well as his confusion and pain. This friend has lost the majority of his biological siblings in the past ten years, as well as numerous street siblings. He has every reason to lament. During part of the service he was praying quietly, and I managed to catch a few snatches; “I love you, Jesus. And I’m just really pissed off with you… I know you love me, Jesus. I’m just having a hard time receiving it.” Another honest prayer.
I think there’s a good reason that so many of the Psalms are songs of lament. We need to and get to express our hearts to God, when we are joyful, confused, tired, angry, hopeful and deeply sad. To me it’s a sign of true and courageous faith when people who have suffered much continue to call out to God in fear, anger and confusion.
May we all learn how to pray these kinds of honest prayers.
Back in May, when I turned thirty, I decided I wanted my word of the year to be “beauty”. I wanted to intentionally appreciate the beauty of nature, visual art, music, literature, take time to create more art myself, and also have my eyes, ears, mind and heart open to the beauty to be found in unexpected places.
As we launch into 2018, I am renewing my intention to focus on beauty. I’ve picked up some poetry books, I’ve been dabbling in water colour painting, and have been writing down beautiful experiences so that they don’t slip into the haze of my not-so-great memory. It’s been a while since I’ve written a “Beautiful Moments” blog, so I think it’s high time 🙂 Here are a few from this week:
– On Monday I had an exceptionally pleasant conversation with a member of the community who is usually very volatile when he comes into drop-in. We chit chatted for a good 15 minutes without him getting angry, which is record-shattering! (He lost it on me later in the day, but those 15 minutes of happy chatting still happened! Unexpected camaraderie is beautiful.)
– On Tuesday evening the discussion at Bible study was quite powerful, thanks to the decision by a couple of folks to be vulnerable about their struggles. I basically sat back and witnessed these friends come to a deeper understanding of God’s love for them by sharing their unique perspectives and experiences with one another. It was uncomfortable at times, and very worth it. Trusting openness is beautiful.
-After Bible Study a couple of us walked a community member to his WheelTrans bus (an accessible transportation service), while singing “Lean on Me” at the top of our lungs (not my idea! But I went along with it, because… why NOT!) Passersby looked confused and/or amused, and the WheelTrans driver got a kick out of us. Silliness is beautiful.
May you find lots of beauty this year, too.