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Archive for May, 2009

Meanwhile…

…the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning.

(from “The Weight of Glory”, a sermon by C.S. Lewis, 1941)

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Last week, David Ker wrote a CyberPsalm in the form of a prayer for a friend and coworker, Ada, who is battling cancer. I also know Ada, though it has been years since I’ve seen her. Several mutual friends have written me recently, asking me to join them in praying for her.

During this same time, my heart has also been heavy for H., a man in the church I attend now, who is battling a similar cancer. I found myself struggling in my prayers for him, and that struggle was compounded in my prayers for Ada.

I have walked through some very painful things in the last few years. And through the process, I have experienced the Lord’s faithfulness as I have clung to Him. Having more or less come through the worst of that time, I do not necessarily find myself to be more confident in my praying. If anything, the only spiritual practice I find my confidence increased in is lamenting.

And so as I would try to pray for my suffering sister and brother, I could not find the words, only tears. Tears for them, for their spouses and children. I could feel edges of the pain and uncertainty and sorrows they and their families must be walking through. And yet the words to put in a prayer did not come.

During my most painful days, I struggled with the things that God does not do and did not do for me. Now, I think I struggle more with not understanding the things he does do, and with wondering how on earth my prayers are supposed to fit into all of that. I find myself feeling something along the lines of, Lord, I know you can do anything, but as to what you want to do and plan to do…I just don’t know.

And so my prayers (and some would say my faith) are weak and uncertain. And yet I continue to trust the Lord confidently with my tears–crying out and clinging to him, for myself, for my children, and in my longings and cries for Ada and for H. and for their families.

When my friends asked me if I would write a prayer for Ada and send it along with the prayers of others, I wondered how I would send a feeling-prayer, instead of a word prayer. I cannot bottle my tears up and send them in the post or via email.

I did, however, have a verse that kept running through my mind as I thought of the suffering and sorrow Ada and H. are facing, and of all my unanswered questions about how to pray for them.

A short while later, there was a beautiful photo* on my National Geographic Photo of the Day link. I ended up combining the photo with the verse, using my new Corel PhotoShop program.

This is the closest I can come to putting all of my questions, longings, trust and doubts into a prayer for Ada and for H.:

botswana river crossing color with brown

And just because my mood (and therefore my tears and prayers) are less colorful some days than others here’s the same photo, with a sepia effect:

botswana river crossing sepia lightened

Listening to Canon in D while finishing up these photos, I felt like I had just about  found a tangible expression of my heart’s cries and prayers. (If only talking with people was as “easy” as showing them a photo and telling them to listen to a song. There are days when, as hard as praying in words is for me, that I am so thankful the Lord sees my heart, understands the things I feel in response to a song or to a photo, and gets my prayer, after all, even without the words.)

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*This photo was  the National Geographic Photo of the Day for May 10, 2009. Here is the description: “A Mbukushu mother and child cross Botswana’s Okavango River, whose seasonal floods bring life to a parched land.” You can see five more beautiful photos from the same book, Mothers and Children, at this link.

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The Biggest Pain

If you have been depressed, what is/was/has been the most difficult symptom, side effect or manifestation of the depression?

If you have walked with someone you love through depression, which part of their depression is the thing that was most difficult for you?

Either way, is there any particular aspect of depression which seems to be dangerous? I suppose with this question, I’m pondering what the specific thing is in depression that leads some people to consider taking their own life as an answer.

I keep thinking I have things I want to write about depression, and instead I just keep coming up with more questions and ponderables. I do have thoughts that aren’t questions, but because I think about so many things both linearly and from lots of different angles (each one in a linear sort of way), I quickly get bogged down by all the different details and have a hard time organizing them enough in my mind to transfer them to written words. So, for the time being, I find trying to write down all my varied thoughts on depression to be, well, depressing.

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How do you think about depression?

Is it something to be:

Managed?

Brought under control?

Endured?

Survived?

Treated?

Something else?

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…with a little help from Van Gogh (thanks, Wikipedia) to paint a picture of how a friend’s friend has been feeling lately:

clip_image002

And the prayer, prayed on behalf of this young man, borrowed from Viktor Frankl (quoted in his biography, When Life Calls Out to Us):

God, you have stricken me with mind;
So help me now to bear this life.

I’m thinking about stepping into the mud a bit, with a few posts on depression. I’ve avoided this topic for a while, because I hate the way the intensity on the subject seems to breed misunderstanding and get in the way of productive, helpful discussion.

I reread much of the book of Job this morning, the way I sometimes like to read it (only reading Job’s words, and cheering him on for his courage in proclaiming both his despair and his innocence, in the face of well-meaning friends, who kept getting it all wrong).  And that rereading, combined with concern over my friend’s friend, has stirred up my desire to wrestle with the topic of depression, again.

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