Posts Tagged ‘lament’

winter treeI thought I could write today. I thought I would title this post, the Widow’s Lament, but really, to what end? I am forging on, for good or ill, the way I usually do, with busyness and tasks. In this way, I can push back the other, that unnameable thing some call grief, but the word barely scratches at the guts of the experience.

Williams Carlos Williams wrote a beautiful poem entitled the Widow’s Lament, but it also carries the hope of renewal within it, set in the spring. For me, it is still winter, cold short days and bitter wind and frozen tears falling white.

I sought out scripture about widows, and we, like orphans, defined by our aloneness, are cast upon the body for care and love. I am grateful for it, I can say that plainly for my capable self is perilously close to shattering her illusion. Keep busy. What is worse? To collapse under the weight of it all and cast one’s being into the flurry of well-intentioned voices and pursuits or brave it well by appearance and lose support? Where is the middle ground? I am not a blubbering mess, not really, but I am also not a tower of strength. Stay close, my people, the way is long.

True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. [James 1:27, CEB]

I found these words, I dedicate them to my children, that they might know something of the truth (written by Lauren Bacall, at the death of her beloved husband, Humphrey Bogart):

A new beginning for me, the making of a life without Bogie . . . And from the time of his death–and more and more–his teachings have permeated by being. With each passing year I find myself repeating more and more often to my three children and to many of my friends his words of wisdom . . . how two become one and is that one way people live on after death? . . . So imagine my shock when I realized, at the tender age of sixty-five, that with all the above, the final truth is this: I live alone. I need a reason for all that I do, not just fill my days but to unleash my energy, to make me feel warm, that I matter, to satisfy my emotions. When I travel, which is often, who do I buy things for? My children. to whom do I send postcards? My children. Who do I call? My children. they are my connection. My connection with yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And so I imagine it will be (and is) with me: my children and my God and the people who love and need to be loved.

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I think of Paul as a punctilious kind of teacher, quite linearly-minded, regimented, and formal. But then, he surprises me with this verbal requiem over a particular loss he feels in traveling the “new way” in Christ: losing the people and all that was familiar to him to “boldly go” and explore this “strange new world.”

Romans 9:1a, 2
I [Paul] AM speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; . . . I have bitter grief and incessant anguish in my heart.

I remember the weeks after I first became a follower of Christ. Even though I was clear about my choice and more than willing to venture forth, I also experienced a type of grief. Who would I be? How would this new way look? Would I lose all of my old friends? Would I have to conform to behaviors that didn’t feel like me because I agreed to follow this Messiah?

But, as the true adventure took hold, a joy and confidence grew within. My spirit was shooting off and I knew, despite any lingering questions and doubts and even grief, this was the way. I started telling everyone my story. But there were only a few who wanted to listen. I had to let go of them because I understood, they were no different than I had been. In the years before my spirit woke up, I had considered the Christian way old-fashioned, ineffectual, narrow-minded, and confining. Their discovery would be in God’s time. I cannot say, even to this day, why the planets aligned and I had that revelation glimpse of Christ. Others would say that I was chosen (one of the elect), but I find that too prideful to say. All have the potential to Christ.

Paul had his own supernatural experience on the road to Damascus and subsequent miracle when his eyesight was restored through the prayer of a man who should have feared being in the same room with Paul, a former enemy because of his faith in Jesus. [Acts 9:10-17] Paul was the least likely conversion.

As I walk through Paul’s writings, his dominant proof message is that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. For Paul, this was the whole point! And he could not fathom why his own people didn’t “see” what he saw, didn’t understand what he understood, didn’t accept what he had accepted. They had all the information, the genealogy, the promises, and the prophecies.

But to accept the Messiah meant changing everything. It was easier to keep waiting for the Messiah than to consider he might have come.

My lament is that many people see the trappings of Christianity and cannot project themselves into that perceived lifestyle. They are actually rejecting what they assume it means to become a follower on the Way. But I know now that accepting Christ doesn’t have to “look like that.” The first step is to open the inner door and simply allow God to direct the way.

There is always some loss in change, but there is also gain.

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