- the weather is unremittingly humid and hot
- the pictures of refugees from Europe and its neighbors is tragic
- the forests of California are ablaze with wild racing fires
- the contours of the lives of so many beloved ones are locked in and hopeless
- more news this morning of a sudden death of a youngish husband of a colleague
- a childhood friend is suffering
- someone’s partner suddenly stumbles into an utterly surprising critical diagnosis
- a companion on the Camino went missing, and her body is found murdered in a local village
And so it goes. And I scour my heart and resources to know how to pray, what to do, how to live under the weight of all of the earth’s heaviness. I went to my oldest concordance to see if there were any words from sacred text about heaviness; in older translations there are many, but newer versions have chosen other words for heaviness:
sorrow, grief, despair, anxiety, lamentation, mourning, anguish, distress, dejection
Yes, those will do…they begin to spell out the apt particulars of some of this heaviness–the sadness, the fear, the anger, the hopelessness. Yet, all of these expressions are offered out into the safe container of the Mystery we call God, Whom the crier doesn’t see or hear at the moment, but is sure can receive these feelings without personal diminishment or judgement. So I take both shelter and energy in the words of Jesus:
Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…(Mt. 11:28)
I pray from the Book of Common Worship: Lift heavy sorrow and give us good hope in Jesus…
And the learning and lifting comes slowly, slowly, slowly, point of Light after point of Light…an opportunity to contribute to relief for those who suffer, both here and across the sea; an insight for a gift that can be offered as respite care; a connection that I can make from a resource I know to someone who can use it; words of comforting presence and solidarity that can be uttered; a surprise of joy that suddenly appears, like the butterfly at my window. And with each step or movement I can feel the heaviness become more navigable, even bearable, with some openings for hope, even as I continue to lament and ask for justice.
I ask for eyes to see, ears to hear, heart to sense the openings, sinews to hold me in a stance of hopefulness against all odds, courage to keep facing and observing the brokenness and willfulness that piles on God’s people and the earth that leads to such heaviness.
And it is the writers of the sacred text that give me direction me out of their own experience:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, my help and my God. (Ps.42:5)
And so I am practicing hope: hope for the displaced ones, hope for the suffering ones, hope for the grieving ones.In hope once again turn to my go-to prayer from Augustine:
Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend Your sick ones, Lord Christ. Rest Your weary ones. Bless Your dying ones. Soothe Your suffering ones. Shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love’s sake. Amen.
And I pray for the heaviness to lift! May it be so!