I was thinking today in a non morbid way of losses or many different types that have been part of the reality of illness. Some of them have been hard, distressing, some of them reasonably easy to adjust to. Some types of loss you can possibly imagine would accompany health issues and early retirement, others may surprise you if I were to share them. What prompted my thinking along these lines were these words from Henri Nouwen: “The gift of life has revealed itself in the midst of all losses.” I prayed in response to my thinking: once again I wrote as I prayed. I have left our any specific references to any of my particular personal losses, but having said that, I offer this prayer to you to share in and to use, if you find it helpful. The style is mine, so don’t be put off by that. I like words, but we are not heard by God for our love of words, or for out means of expression. Perhaps reading my prayer will help you pray your own in the face of your own losses, in your own way and words!
“Lord, losses are real and they are painful. You know that. Thank You Lord that you sighed for the man whose speech impediment must have been mocked (a thought I read in the reading for today, June 24th, in “Sanctuary” by David Strutt). You wept in the face of grief. You released anguish in the face of death: deep violent feeling against it, because of all it steals and destroys. You did not rush past feelings, but gave space for loss to live and breathe and speak and make its sounds too deep for words. Thank You.
As so often, I am left praying, “Teach me Your ways O Lord.” Give me your wisdom. These last few years have brought many losses, whose distress and voice I have sometimes gagged, forgetting that there is comfort that can only be found in and through mourning. It is not faith that ignores and presses on, but fear. It is not courage but cowardice to behave like that. It is not the triumph of peace but of panic. Forgive me.
Today, I feel. In the presence of the beauty of this summer day, the colour of it, the fragrances in the garden, senses are clarified and heightened. I am drawn to “feel” like bees to a flower. Beauty has awakened some remembered sorrows that I know you have now brought me through. But I do remember the former things. Brightness brought back the memory of confusion and lack of clarity; colours made me think of the grey times: more unbearable than black and white. The feeling of mourning can be felt again just as a smell can be remembered and sensed again though it is no longer present.
Yet, in the mourning remembered, I sensed the dawn that is new every second of the day and night, a dawn that penetrates the darkness and outshines the noon day sun. It is the ever fresh dawn of You, You Yourself. Under all shrouds, there seems to be a dance. You have helped me learn new steps. Mourning and dancing seem to be so linked in your presence. How horribly subtle is the serpent: causing grief but not allowing its expression, telling us to wipe out tears and dry our eyes prematurely. You call us to a grief that the evil one tries to disallow, for he knows mourning with you is the first step in the dance of comfort. In facing things that are no more, You help us to find treasures that will never end. You teach songs in the night, that shine brighter than the sun in the dawn, haunting the day with their other worldly beauty, their unsung melody.
Through suffering you entered your glory. The uniqueness of your story is a pattern, a promise for all who believe. “Teach me to dance to the beat of your heart, teach me to move in the power of Your Spirit, teach me to dwell in the light of your presence.” I am at my gladdest when moving with the Lamb who bears the marks of slaughter, yet has been anointed with the oil of joy beyond all His companions who walk with Him. You take the prize for dancing Lord, the prize for the most joyful dance learned through the most painful steps. Help me to wonder at You, watch, listen and learn. Oh, get off the floor, all you self-proclaimed experts in God. Get off the floor, Pastor Borthwick. Make way for Jesus. Watch Him dance, look at Him go! Applaud His triumph! Give Him the glory due!
Father, may this be a day when for many, your Word will be fulfilled yet again: “You have turned our mourning into dancing…you have given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness!”
In Your Name