Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lament? What?

In God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, L.L. Barkat writes about the importance of lament. When I read this chapter (entitled “open: prayer”), my first response was – lament? Am I supposed to lament as one form of spiritual practice? I’m an American; Americans don’t lament. We move on; we get on with it; we look forward, not backward. In a way, lament smacks of weakness.

Exactly.

Perhaps that’s what this is really about. To lament is to acknowledge that some things (at least) are beyond your control and influence, that you have blown something and badly, that you have let someone down or hurt someone or made a serious mistake. It means that that you have a sorrow in your soul, and more than that, it has to be articulated in a context of something larger than the sorrow.

One of the exercises suggested by Barkat is to make a list of laments and then to write a psalm, inseritng the laments into the framework of lament/praise to God/lament/praise to God. Just like David did in the psalms he wrote. What emerges is a poem, a kind of song (which is what a psalm is).

My heart is weak, my spirit too sensitive.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.
I have wasted much time in my life, and what I have left is short.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.

My tongue is more courageous than my heart.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.
My arms are weary, my muscles weak.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.

I fear stupidly, forgetting the creator of the universe.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.
Too quick to take offense, I crave man’s favor and ignore God’s mercy.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.

I stand naked before the cross,
all pretence stripped away, and
I am ashamed.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.

He has cleaned me,
He has scoured me.
He has called me child, His.
He has dressed me in a robe of brilliant white.
He has placed a crown upon my head.
He has touched my cheek with His kiss.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever.


Related:

Hide by Laura Boggess at The Wellspring.

15 comments:

katdish said...

Wonderful. Why are we (I) so stubborn when it comes to surrender?

Sandra Heska King said...

"I have wasted much time in my life, and what I have left is short."

I can identify with that one. But I'm giving thanks--cuz He's got it all under control.

Madame Rubies said...

Must add this book to my wishlist.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Your psalm is beautiful.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Red Letter Believers said...

the idea of tearning my clothes and pouring ashes over my heads seems so ...so over the top. But there is something to be said about the healing of anguish. I have experienced that this year and can testify that lament does work!

Deidra said...

"...Americans don’t lament. We move on; we get on with it; we look forward, not backward. In a way, lament smacks of weakness. Exactly."

I embrace this, while at the same time I want to run and hide from it. Oh, the power of the truth.

Cassandra Frear said...

Across the course of my walk with God, I have much lamented. There are things that will never be because I didn't do all I should have and because of the way sin has etched its grooves to the very core of life in a fallen world.

But I hide my laments from polite company. Because they are not welcome. People don't want to hear this. They want me to keep it positive. I understand. We crave encouragement from one another, and that should be my main focus in conversation.

Still, I need to say them and so I send them upward, ringing into the heavens where my Lord gathers them tenderly as love-offerings. For to lament is to love.

That he knows this -- that he weeps with me -- makes it possible for me to go on and to fight battles.

How good it is to read here that I am not alone.

S. Etole said...

Lament and you lament alone ... isn't that the more current view?

The line about the tongue being more courageous than the heart ... how true in my life that is ...

Your writing whets my appetite for more.

n. davis rosback said...

beautiful

L.L. Barkat said...

I love that you tried it!

And it is beautiful.

Thank you for lamenting here before us. You pave the wave for our own vulnerability.

Laura said...

I love what L.L. says in this chapter about lament making me vulnerable and open to God. Strange, but reading your lament does that too. I think the Jewish people have it right when it comes to sitting Shiva. Acting out grief...is amazingly liberating. Our culture keeps us from doing this painful practice that, I believe, sets us free in many ways. Grief can be the way to Joy. It is where we feel Him the closest.

How weird is that?

Such a beautiful Psalm, Glynn. Your vulnerabiltiy shatters. And then puts me back together again.

A Simple Country Girl said...

I, too, fear my own stupidity.

This is beauty. Your poems have always reminded me of the psalms, by the way.

Ah, what a gift in being His child! Praise God for that!

Blessings.

Duane Scott said...

No words. Loved it.

HisFireFly said...

Yes, and amen!

Whatever lines we place around it the simple truth remains

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.

Maureen said...

Might a call for help also be an expression of trust in Him who will respond?

Beautiful post, Glynn.