Monday, October 13, 2008

Psalm 88

We have been to Chicago to empty our son's apartment.

We have taken the first steps to open an estate. For our child.

I have wished many times over the past week that I had gotten to know my mother's mother better than I did. For the usual complex assortment of factors that affect family dynamics, although not for want of trying on their part, my brother and I never had the same depth of connection with our maternal grandparents that we did with my father's parents. Now, for my own selfish reasons, I am so sorry that I did not have more of a relationship with the grandmother whose daughter died at 28. I want to know what those first weeks and months were like for her. I want to know what the rest of her life without her beloved daughter was like for her.

Psalm 88 is the only one that applies. I have been interested to discover how many of its readers are puzzled, alarmed even, by its utter bleakness, its complete unwillingness to resolve itself in solace or praise. It does not even merit a mention in Textweek, which offers resources and commentaries that go almost all the way back to the beginnings of Christianity, as a possible preaching text. Apparently our own 21st century western culture is not unique in its reluctance to stare unreservedly into the abyss of darkness.

Only one psalm out of 150 speaks to this time. I know that I am going to begin to cycle through some of the other psalms of lament soon, the ones that do end in expressions of hope. But thank God that there is one to which to turn when the authenticity and power of unrelieved anguish is called for.

19 comments:

Mary Beth said...

Lifting you up in prayer right now.

((GG))

Cynthia said...

One of the hardest things for me has been that I've felt unable to turn to either the Bible or prayer. Oh, I've tried and felt nothing but futility, and I'm still taking each day as it comes.

Sarah S-D said...

thought of you as i listened to pray-as-you-go today before reading this post- lots of reflection when we cannot pray. (((gg)))

so glad there is one Psalm that prays through you right now.

Gannet Girl said...

Sarah, I just listened to that PAYG and you are right. I have thought many times during the last six weeks that the Holy Spirit will have to do the things I used to do, because I no longer can.

RevDrKate said...

Here and praying still. ((gg))

Michelle said...

I'm still praying, too, every day, from all the ends of the earth...


every time Psalm 88 has cycled through (it shows up every Friday night in the Office) I remember how it felt to pray it in the dark nights, and pray for you yet again.

Magdalene6127 said...

Unresolved anguish. Yes. Hard to look into the abyss, Yes. Still praying for you (in many senses of that word, "for"), with you. (((GG)))

Jennifer said...

To anticipate the hope would make its arrival inauthentic--perhaps the phrase "surprised by joy" is particularly apt in your losses. How could you feel anything but surprise when eventually joy creeps in? So sit in Psalm 88 as you must--we pray for you there.

Stratoz said...

I am so sorry about the lack of relationship with your grandma. I don't know how much I knew either of mine on a deep personal level, but each influenced me greatly. In fact, tis time to schedule strudelfest 2008.

mompriest said...

Sometimes been grateful for Psalm 88, whether for myself, or for others I know...

((GG)) holding you in prayer...

Deb said...

(o)

words don't say what prayers will do...

peace
Deb

Carol said...

I just went and read Psalm 88. {{{{{GG}}}}}} One second, minute, hour, and day at a time. One foot in front of the next. When you can. And when you're ready. Such difficult work and tasks facing you. Continued prayers for healing and hope head your way.

Rev SS said...

thanks be to God for Psalm 88 ... and prayers for you continue

Lisa :-] said...

(((((Robin)))))

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

(((gg and family)))

Ellyn said...

Continued prayers for you and yours.

Althea N. Agape said...

I come by often to check on you, although I comment rarely and I pray for you and yours daily.

Katherine E. said...

A speaker at my church yesterday mentioned "mirror neurons." (She was talking about the current research on the link between healthy relationshps and physical health.) Apparently scientists are now able to identify neurons in the brain that wake up when we feel empathy with another person.
I don't know how that would work over the internet, GG. And of course I can't know how you feel. I just know that my heart aches when I read your exquisite, excruciating posts. My heart sends up prayer after prayer after prayer after prayer...

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

Psalm 88 is a gift. Dr Mike Rogness introduced me to it. It has such power. I've read it with people in deep pain and every time it opens them up to God even when the only wanted to scream and argue a few minutes before.
God be with you.