Category Archives: Faith

Pain remembered

I read the Psalms daily. Have for 5 years. Generally I would say, given recent thinking about the life of C.S. Lewis, the Psalms are raw and human, as his writings reveal he was.

There is also a new idea gleaned from my favorite author, Oswald Chambers, that of living a “perfectly actual life,” as opposed to an “actually perfect life,” which is another way of saying that life really is raw and human as well.

It is futile to say there is no death, war, disease or pain, when there actually is.

I read a Psalm this morning that screamed the following demand of God, as if throwing a fit.

“Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?

Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?

Why do you bury your face in the pillow?

Why pretend things are just fine with us?

And here we are – flat on our faces in the dirt, held down with a boot on our necks.

Get up and come to our rescue.

If you love us so much, help us!”

Who dares speak to God this way! No one who grew up with a religion which they inherited.

Unless they fell down and broke themselves since. I remember coming to this attitude.

Even the other night.

But what prompted me to write was reading another Psalm just now. In it was one of those verses I had heard, like a lot of singular verses, which describes something that leads one to believe it means one thing when in context it is speaking of some other thing.

“And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.”

Well everyone knows that’s about heaven.

Or not.

The context is actually pain. When I read the complete thought, I realized I’ve lived it, and felt it deeply.

“My heart is very pained within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.

And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.”

I used this translation because of its poetic beauty.

“…terrors of death are fallen upon me.”

“…and horror has overwhelmed me.”

I’ve not been near death, but I’ve had emotional pain so powerful that “terrors of death” seemed an appropriate metaphor.

Sometimes I forget that this happened.

I don’t have to remember it.

But I don’t want to forget it.

I’ve often spoken about my corner room in my inner cellar, my emotional refuge.

Imagine needing relief so desperately that your imagination could believe it if suddenly dove’s wings sprouted, and one could escape and “wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.”

And “Selah” generally means, “now stop and think about that.”

I’m sure I keep thinking about this general subject because I wonder sometimes if anyone, especially those hurt by me, or those just embarrassed by what they heard I did, could ever imagine that I too experienced unbearable pain.

And that I sometimes remember it.

I intend to practice being healthy by not forgetting.

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Good Friday

Poor Jesus.
He’s dead.
 
 
We brood, as if to endure the commemoration of it.
Can’t wait till Resurrection Sunday morning.
 
 
Death by death is destroyed
by remaining dead.
 
 
It can take life but once and no more.
 
 
Death is negated by itself,
and death is quiet because it’s dead.
 
 
There was a serenity in the quietness of his tomb that night.
 
 
The writhing approach of death arrived
and with it came quiet.
And it’s still quiet in there,
because what’s dead is dead,
including my right to myself.
 
 
The death I died with Jesus is forever
to whatever it was he died;
And the life he lives in me is forever
to whom he lives.
 
 
That me is unanimated, and can remain so.
His new life has a body to live in,
A dead one, animated only by what raised his.
 

redemption’s groan

I feel as the tree, the lion, the bird;

I groan for redemption, of this I have heard

in Romans; uniting all creatures in one,

at last to be freed by God’s only Son.

 

The tree waves and bends, but rooted it stays,

The lion sends out roars, not only for prey,

The bird chants its song, no words to declare

what all of us want, to see our God there.

a sparrow

You can buy two for a penny, cheap enough;

I see hundreds a day in a bamboo shrub on Point Street,

and they’ve become my friends as I pass by.

 
 

When I try to whistle their tune, they suddenly stop theirs;

I can’t know any one of them, just all of them,

The one like the other, nothing flashy, mostly brown.

 
 

He who inhabits eternity, and knows every star in His palace hall,

And having named each one, then surely these;

Not one falls to the ground without His notice.

 
 

Even as “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord;

And my soul and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

So, too, “the sparrow has found a home” in His temple.

 
 

Another day after work, I walked again that sidewalk,

and there it lay, having fallen, insignificantly, a single dead bird.

Its Father watching, must have cried, and His tears fell from my eyes.

 
 

I stepped over the tiny body, then paused to looked;

The profundity of life in feathers, lifeless; known by its Maker;

And there I knew that God loves me, too.

Careful care

Many a thought flutters around in my head, whether I’m thought about by anyone at all. Jesus gave a warning that the cares of this life can cause us to miss how simply a lily or a bird lives by how complicatedly we sometimes do.

And those cares, according to Oswald Chambers, can be either having money or not having money, having friends or not having them. I can be careful (full of care) over the financial condition in which I find myself at this point in life. Being single also has a socially isolating effect as well.

But what Jesus says makes me think; what is it that lilies and birds know that I don’t know? The attention paid by both says a lot, e.g., they concentrate on living, they are unconscious of what they are.

Watch a little sparrow, how endlessly they jerk their little heads and hop about so erratically. They concentrate their efforts on surviving, yes. But more so on being a bird, looking for what the hand of God has left for them to find.

Lilies, as far as I know, have no brains or nerves or eyes, and yet they follow the warmth of the sunlit day from horizon to horizon, drinking in what makes them live and what makes them lilies.

Yet we may rightly contend that the sparrow and the lily are quite unaware of what they are doing by being what they are being. Lilies, after all, are mostly underground, mostly entombed.

They do best when planted deeply, and rarely produce flowers until the second year. The  significance of the bloom owes to the insignificance of the bulb.

I may want to remember that perhaps most days are necessarily as unseen as the lily’s bulb and as mundane brown as feathers on a sparrow. And as carefully cared for.