You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘pain’ tag.

Longing to heal the ugliness in others,
I find my only weapon may be
My own acceptance of my acceptance
In the beloved.
Help me, Father, to express my trust
In You and in Your reconstructive
Work around me by embracing
Your delight in me.
jmc 4/11/12


(C. S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Lucy’s gift from Father Christmas)

A few years ago, I asked my grandmother what events in her life struck her generation like 9-11 struck mine. She said that Pearl Harbor Day was like that for her–totally shocking. And memorable. And she still remembers it every Pearl Harbor Day . . . while for me that day feels like almost any other day, even though I know what happened.

Like all tragedies, this date and its impact has faded for me into the background of daily activities, more easily running into the weeks and months and years. In some ways I am sad for that–sad to lose that noble sting. In some ways I am glad for the sign of moving through the grieving process.

But I will always remember where I was on Sept 11 when the Twin Towers fell. I will always remember little details about the next months and years. Like the birth of my brother and my sister, I can hardly remember how we lived before that date. Can hardly remember when TSA lines were not routine. Because whether we remember it or not, 9-11, like Pearl Harbor Day, redefined our world and our nation.

I pray that it has redefined us for the better and for the nobler. That the courage and unity demonstrated on that day will not be swallowed up in the fear of being hurt and in the determination to be safe above all else. But like all wounds and all grief, it is our choice what we will do with the pain. Will we run and hide? or will we dare again to be ourselves? Will we play it safe or will we continue to take risks in the pursuit of what is right?

We know what the Pearl Harbor Generation did. They didn’t do it perfectly, and they didn’t do everything right. But they rose to the challenge nobly. May history show us to have done the same with our redefining moment.

Broken wounded hearts
Stars seemingly numberless
He knows all their names

jmc 1-30-2011

May 2009

I’m going to go back to
Not being human;
The more human you are
The more easily hurt:
Complexities misunderstood,
Comments misinterpreted,
Soft heart opened up
And then stepped on by
Eager expecting feet—
Some of them your own.

I’m going to go back to
Not being human;
The more human you are
The more easily you hurt:
Slow reflexes miss immediate needs,
Selfishness sucks life from others,
Clumsiness mis-times comments
That tread on others
Creating confusion rather than
Infusing peace.

I’ll build myself a shell
Impervious to the elements,
The same in fair weather
And foul.
I’ll cover my too-
Readable face with hardness
So no stray expression
Will play me or you
False.
I’ll eradicate my needs—
My hunger, my weariness—to
Enable endless service,
Mathematically rule out
Painful Imprecision.
I’ll be the perfect servant.

I’m going to go back to
Not being human.
The more human you are
The less trustworthy.
No more mistakes,
No need to be forgiven.
Finally existing for the
Good of others only:
Utterly useful—
Painlessly disposable.

If I show You,
if I show You where he is buried;
if I take that long, slow walk to his tomb again;
if I take that long, slow walk with You—
if we take that walk together, even though he’s four-days dead;
if I show You where he lies decayed,
What then?

______________________________________________________________

Go back and read it again. Slowly. As though it is so hard to express the thought you really want to ask that you have to preface it with several attempts. As though you can hardly get the words out. Because that’s really what you are wondering but it’s very hard to say, to admit that there’s really no hope. To admit that you feel that way.

This third part of the poem deals with the response I have when I put myself into the story being told in John 11 and when I bring the story into my own life. Jesus asks Martha, “Where have you laid him?” and she replies, “Come and see.”

That response makes sense within the moment. That’s what you do when the dearest friend couldn’t make it to the funeral of your brother but makes it to town 4 days later. You show him the grave. Maybe you pick up a bunch of flowers to lay at the grave, too. And you take a pile of tissues or a handkerchief because you know that the mourning is not over. In fact, you know that the grieving has just begun. You know that almost anything can set you off again, calling up memories that make you smile through your tears and wring your heart out through your smiles. You know that your younger sister is grieving deeply, too, and you try to be strong for her sake. One of you must be the sensible one that takes care of the details. But you and she both know that your lives will never be the same again.

But however normal Martha’s response may have been, as I read the story, as I think of the deaths (both physical and emotional) that I have mourned, my response is a bit different than Martha’s and Mary’s. As I find myself in their shoes, in their story and mine, I want to say to Him . . . very slowly . . . and in words that can hardly get past the tears . . . “What then?”

This is actually a partial re-post of a previous poem, a poem that fits again with the Easter season, especially as we think about the fact that Christ died in our place–He joined us in the death that we all are born into. For those moments on the cross, the ONE WHO KNEW NO SIN BECAME SIN FOR US. And all of the horror and sorrow of death and of the deaths of love and hope and dreams and beauty and righteousness was wrapped up into His dying and the laying Him into His grave. His death has not been the only death to bring sorrow and hopelessness. No, we come face-to-face with death over and over again in our own lives. Easter calls us to remember and to grieve the destruction caused by sin . . . . .

When another one falls,
not falls, but stumbles,
not stumbles, exactly,
but trips, and catching
his façade on a protruding edge,
rips it away for us to see
the things that lie inside—
Death rules again,
And I seem to see
You again, cold and lying
in Your grave enwound with
grave clothes and embalming spices.
I find myself at Your tomb again
Bringing spices, mourning You
Wondering
Was everlasting Life all a Dream?

With deathful Sin triumphant,
standing, gloating, leering,
mocking all our hopes—
now dashed with cold reality—
Who will roll the stone away?

And once the tomb is open,
letting out the stench of death,
exposing to our eyes the
lifeless shell within,
where will we find You?
You are not there, the corpse
that was Your body
cannot now be You—
Your spirit’s gone.
And where You’ve gone
We do not know
And cannot follow.
The memory of You fades
to a dream of something
we thought we had.
But we were mistaken.
What hope is there?

November 11, 2010

I just figured out tonight why Psalm 103:5 would need to happen.

I was reading the background Lois Lowry gives for her book Number the Stars in her afterword. She spoke of the courage of the Danish resistance fighters who dared to defy the Nazis in so many ways . . . and of the youth of so many of them. One young man she spoke of was only 21 when he was executed by the Nazis. Young, brave, and idealistic, he wrote a letter to is loved ones asking them not to lament the past that has ended but to work for the future they truly longed for (and needed). So young. So brave!

And it hit me that I have grown old at heart. Afraid to risk, afraid of the pain, afraid that all I’ve done and risked in the past was a mere foolish waste after all. All that pain, that fear, that doubt is crippling. Because when you’re young you know that the risks are there but you haven’t experienced them firsthand. And you tell yourself that you are proceeding in spite of the risks when really you are simply throwing yourself out into the fray as though there are no risks. Because for the young, the risks don’t exist. But when you have experienced the risks, you grow up, you become conscious of the cost, and you grow wary.

And before you realize it, you’ve grown old.

Perhaps you become more strategic, but maybe that’s a nice way of saying you play things safer.

And perhaps that’s why we need God to renew our youth like the eagle’s–so we can launch ourselves out again and take the risks as though they aren’t even there. Because in the real world, the world that matters, the risk of loving others is great, the greatest, but it’s the one ideal that is the most important. Because if we are going to act like God does, we are going to have to love like He does–in spite of the risks. And–like those young, brave, Danish resistance fighters–perhaps even because of them.

 

Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. Psalm 71:9

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things: so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:5

Nov 29, 2010

I was wrestling the other day with a wrong (or perhaps a series of wrongs), committed by a loved one. I wasn’t sure what to do with them in my own mind. When I read Psalm 62, verse 12 jumped out at me: “Also unto Thee, O LORD, belongeth mercy: for Thou renderest to every man according to his work.” Of course, this is going to sound like I am stating the obvious, but I realized that no one is big enough to handle the consequences of his wrongs. And I didn’t want that person to pay for the wrongs. I truly did (do) want mercy for that person.

But I also want the consequences to be taken care of, the wrongs to be fixed or made ok or made right somehow. Because it’s not only ourselves that must deal with the consequences–it’s those around us.

As I talked with God about it (or perhaps just TO Him at that point), He brought the Ultimate Payment to mind. Jesus’ death pays all debts. But the question I still have is this: if I stand here with the wrongs in my hand, can I truly accept the exchange of those wrongs for Christ’s blood and suffering? I mean, do I really want that? His death? His blood? I don’t want blood. I don’t want more suffering. That’s just one more wrong to be made right.

Maybe I have the wrong idea about the exchange. Maybe the exchange isn’t wrongs for blood; maybe the exchange is wrongs for grace and mercy. Mercy for the one(s) who wronged me; grace for me as I grapple with the consequences. And maybe living through the consequences is part of entering into the sufferings of Christ–following His lead as He entered into our consequences: “surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”; “but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” [fyi: those last two verses were quoted from memory, not carefully copied, so the punctuation, at least, is prob not quite right]

And I have been trying to follow His lead; I just seem to be doing a poor job, slipping and tripping a lot.

My friend posted a book excerpt that touches on the state we are in now–a state of missing something and longing for it and trying to get it back again. The book calls it “the feeling that quit at the Fall.” (Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller)

Read the excerpt here–http://meditationsfortheliminal.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-searching-for-god-knows-what.html

It struck me that he calls it a feeling. And it is a feeling. And the absence of it is a feeling. There’s an Adventures in Odyssey episode about God’s search for man that has Adam talking about what it was like after the Fall. His ultimate word on it all was that nothing could ever be the same again. And I’ve been pondering that. Especially in the light of the human relationships I know and enjoy. There are certain things that can happen in our relationships that take away the friendship, the openness, the trust that was there. And nothing is ever the same again. And there is an emptiness, a hole that needs to be filled. That’s what we are looking for as a human race–we are constantly seeking that condition that relationship that existed before the Fall.

The thing is that it goes both ways. It’s really easy to see the loss on our side. We, the offending party, lost the trust and the relationship and the ability to know and feel secure in God’s love. But He lost something, too. He lost us. Anyone who has ever been sinned against, who has ever been betrayed, lost the ability to trust someone, been deeply disappointed by son or daughter or student or friend knows this feeling. And God, being God, must feel it more deeply than we feel it.

There are only two paths away from a fall like this. And neither one is the same as before the fall.
1)  Things can be worse than before. And they usually are. There is distance, pain, separation, distrust, shame. And lots of other things we generally call “negative emotions.”
2) Things can be better than before. And that actually seems almost impossible. Miraculous at best.

But aren’t all the best things in life truly miracles?

The rain came again last night
Not strong and calm—benevolent,
But erratic and terrible
As though the heavens themselves
Were torn with paroxysms
Of grief

The rain came again last night,
Leveling young stalks of corn
In its throes of woe,
Gentle weeping giving way
To wracking sobs, finding
No relief

JMC Thursday, June 3, 2010

This post should, most likely, be some piece of poetry . . . preferably by me and not someone else . . . or so I’ve been told 😉

However, since it’s late at night and I shouldn’t even be up right now, let alone on the computer,
And since I haven’t written any poetry lately,
And since I haven’t gone through old poems in a while to see if there are any new ones to post,
This will have to do,
For now =)

So I had forgotten to add a link to a blog that contains some student writings that are really quite fun: Around the Writer’s Block. Check out the pantoums. And if you want something to sink your teeth into, there are the essays =)

And then there is the blog of the friend who does cakes for a living–you should totally check out the pictures! She’s amazing! Cakes by Suzy is as fun as the name implies =)

Finally there’s the one I found most recently. Meditations for the Liminal is not for everyone, though there was definitely something there for me. It’s primarily for those who have found themselves hurt by those who looked very spiritual and turned out to be modern-day Pharisees (probably because they themselves truly knew nothing of God’s love). It’s for those who are “liminal” as the author explains: those who have found themselves “in between,” so to speak–not easily categorized as “Fundamentalist” but also not willing to deny the things that are fundamental to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have been moved by the way the blog explores Who Jesus is–something that we all find ourselves coming back to again and again as we grow in our Christian lives. Growing closer to God and learning to be more like Christ inevitably leads us to ponder what Christ is really like. =)

So now I am going to conclude this post and head for bed . . . maybe. 😉

January 8, 2010

I am no warrior princess
No Valkyrie from Valhalla
No shield-maiden
Just me
So numb from battle
So tired weary wasted
Drooping down amid shouts of victory
Just me
The grime of battle
So besmirches me I
Don’t know whether it’s my own blood
I wear or another’s
We won, didn’t we?
Why don’t I care?
Is this my own blood that
Covers me head to toe?
Or simply battle-gore from the foe?
How did I acquit myself?
Nevermind: it doesn’t really matter
When all I want is . . . what?
If I got what I was fighting for,
When will I know its joy?
Is it never to be done?
I am no Valkyrie, no Fury
No epic warrior princess
No shield-maiden
Just me.

Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. ~ Langston Hughes

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 63 other followers

JoyousThirst Archives

Categories