Archive

Archive for January, 2012

You’re still here

I’ve often said that if you want to get a message to me, add some music and I will hear it. I’m continually blessed when God uses songs to capture me and challenge me, or to simply comfort me.

You see everything/ You see every part/ You see all my light/ and you love my dark/ You dig everything/ of which I’m ashamed/ there is nothing/You can’t relate to/ And You’re still here. – Alanis Morrisette

I am really struck by the line “And you’re still here”. I think about all my dark, all that I am ashamed of, all my pain and all the ways I fall short. And I know that God sees that. I wait for God to abandon me. I have often thought that my actions, my doubts and my fears have been vast enough that God might leave me.

But over and over, I discover that God loves me in the dark and he accepts me when I am ashamed. But more than that. He is here. Still here. Even when I try to drive Him away. He is still here.

Thanks be to a God who remains present even though He sees everything and every part of me.

Community and Prayer

In my community, we pray together at 7:30am and 9:00pm Monday through Friday, and we try to remember to stop at 1pm to pray and refocus our days. This has become a rhythm that I enjoy and I am surprisingly motivated to get up early in the morning (though I admit, not without some struggle). I’ve been learning just how formative this rhythm of life can be. There is something very rich about starting and ending the day with prayer.

Yesterday, there was a need in our community and a smaller group of us gathered at Camino House to pray specifically for this need. Again it was such a rich time, and very powerful in the sense that I felt the Lord’s presence amongst us where two or three are gathered.

In reading Esther de Waal’s commentary on St. Benedict’s rule, I found a passage that has challenged and inspired me. She says that our first step in faith is to deny our own will and surrender to God’s. Then she says

After that step, that moment of decision, comes the determination and the perseverance, having put my hand to the plough, not to turn back but to follow this through to the end. Without constant prayer this will never be possible. Prayer will remind me all the time that whatever I do is a matter of grace. Perseverance itself is a special grace, and to receive it we have to pray constantly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the need to pray constantly. At a community level, I see a lot of spiritual warfare with the different communities that I take part in. I hear of division, lost hearts, contempt and exclusion. I have been coming to realize that I need to be renewed in prayer in order to wage this war. I cannot do this alone. Thankfully I have a God who walks before me. At a personal level, I feel that a lot of what I am facing right now is spiritual warfare. I use that lightly as I know it is a term that is thrown around a lot in Christian circles too loosely. But it just seems that the battle I am fighting is not only against flesh, but the powers of the spiritual world. And again, I am finding my only comfort and strength in prayer.

One beautiful thing about living in community or being part of the larger communities of faith is to be upheld by prayer. My psychiatrist, who is a dedicated and mature Christian, today said that he would pray for me which was a huge blessing to hear. I had told him of a meeting that I was not looking forward to and he knew the details. He asked me what time the meeting would be and said that he would pray for me at that time.

Others are praying for me. People who are close to me. And people who I haven’t even met. I think through community and corporate prayer, I am discovering what a blessing prayer is.

Closer to the Light

 A friend of mine gave me the whole collection of Bruce Cockburn’s music (a large collection indeed!) and I have been enjoying becoming reacquainted with songs that I once knew and discovering some real gems. There’s one that I have been listening a lot to lately called “Closer to the Light” (It’s a beautiful song – have a listen here)

Gone from mystery into mystery/ Gone from daylight into night/ Another step deeper into darkness/ Closer to the light.

As some of you may know, I have been trying to understand my faith as I wrestle with depression and the impact of the things that have happened to me and the unrelenting longing that I have for my family to be reconciled. These few words have really spoken to me and challenged me. I feel like for the past couple of months I have moved from daylight into night, again, and some days feel the night more than others. I have gone from a period of mysterious joy to a time that is just as mysterious, but in a different way.

I’ve had people suggest that what I need to do is some focused work on my past. That scares me, as it is a step deeper into darkness. I do not know the mystery beyond the night I already feel. I have already done so much work, but to go the extra step, a step deeper, has felt overwhelming in just the thought of it.

But perhaps Cockburn is right. Perhaps a step deeper into the darkness will bring me closer to the Light. I got thinking today about Christ in Gethsemane, praying that God would take this cup from him. But he had to go through the darkness of suffering, the Cross, and death before he was resurrected. That night He took a step deeper into darkness, but moved closer to the Light. I look back in my life at all the times I have waded the darkness and each time I move beyond the darkness, I come out changed, with a new sense of healing and a passion for what God is doing in my life and what he is preparing me for.

Could I reach the light without the darkness?

I’m not sure what the right answer is. But it seems as if my life is a cycle of going through dark nights and arising from them with a greater sense of God’s presence, love and grace. Maybe, this thorn in my side, is there so that I might also say that God’s grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Maybe I will be like Paul and “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:10). Maybe I will come to the place in my faith where I can say that for Christ’s sake, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Lord, I’ve gone from daylight into night. Help me to take another step deeper into the darkness so that I might step closer to the light. Amen.

 

 

 

Prayer

I am taking a course called “Monastic and Missional” and as part of the course we are reading through Esther de Waal’s A life-giving way: A commentary on the rule of St Benedict. We are supposed to be using the prayer method Lectio Divina which first guides us to set our hearts and minds on God and to give him our worries and our fears and all that is burdening us. Then it is a reading of the text, allowing a word or a phrase or a sentence to stand out and to reflect, meditate and think about what stands out and what it means and how it applies to our lives. It is an ancient form of prayer that I am learning how to do.

Anyways, as many people know, I have been going through an emotionally difficult time over the past month or so fighting the war(t)* of depression (*see earlier post for the explanation of this image ;-)) I found myself today with a lot of things to empty before God and to trust that he will carry them for me.

Here is my prayer for today.

My heart is heavy O my God, and aches with pain. Oh Lord, carry me through this time. Watch my every step, catch me as I fall, protect me as I trip. Bring comfort and healing to the core of my being. Touch my wounds with your love. And bring me into your wholeness, Shalom, peace. Amen