Life Poetry


‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.’ –Psalm 34:18

My daughter has a close friend who found her brother’s body several months ago.  He committed suicide.  I often see on Facebook that she’s having a tough day–trying so hard to be strong and keep her faith; but, having a hard time processing horrific life circumstances at 21 or 22.  My heart aches for her heartache.

I cringe at times when I hear people say, ‘Time heals all wounds.’  In my experience, time heals nothing.  Time distances us from circumstances, but cannot guarantee healing.  I suppose it depends on how we define ‘healing.’  I define it as being without hardness and callouses–but we may limp, figuratively.  Often when we expect time to heal our hearts, we become hardened, cynical and calloused.  I do pray for my daughter’s friend that she gives her heart time for healing–makes space in her life to feel completely the spectrum of emotions without shame, trusting God to heal the brokenness.

I love the book of Psalms.  I love the raw honesty of emotions in its poetry–the joyful passion of praise and thanksgiving, the expressions of anger at injustices, blaming God for circumstances and not acting the in a desired way, the unabashed worship, the stillness of a resolute heart clinging to faith.  I love that the people who canonized the Bible recognized that God can consider poetry holy.  In these poems, we experience the life they lived from their perspective, even though they lived thousands of years ago.  I love seeing that the human heart hasn’t evolved much in thousands of years–we still feel deeply all the heartbreak when life doesn’t live up to our expectations, soaring joy and invincibility when things go well, deep awe and reverence when something in nature stops us in our tracks.  I remember my grandma saying that when she saw a plane in the sky for the first time, she whispered, ‘And I will shew wonders in heaven above’ (Acts 2:19, KJV).  She stood awestruck that God would allow such a miracle.

I love that having this holy book of poetry means that emotions cannot condemn us–no matter how long it takes for perspective to come.  Perspective can come.

I’ve written a few of my own psalms throughout life–some more ‘raw’ than others–and have discovered that the writing can release the power of the emotion more quickly than stewing over whatever creates the emotion in me.  I’ve burned a few as a symbolic act of letting go of the things beyond my control and allowing them to lift and float to God.  I’ve ripped a few to shreds in anger.  I’ve kept a few that still make me weep because the wound that caused the emotion hasn’t quite closed yet.

I have learned that we don’t have to write a poem to create a psalm.  Sometimes our lives become living psalms when our heartache is public.  My daughter’s friend creates a living psalm when I watch a few tears silently roll down her cheek in church before she brushes them away and breathes in new composure.  How many ‘psalms’ do we miss each day as we focus on our agendas?  How many opportunities do we miss to hear someone’s exuberant excitement, painful heartache, glorious revelation about life or love or God?  Will I learn to open myself to others’ vulnerable story and view their poetic life as holy?  Can that simple act begin to bring peace to our neighbors?  Our cities?  Our nation?  Our world?  Selfless understanding can create a bond of unity.  I wonder if that type of understanding could facilitate negotiation in governments?  But, the government shutdown is for another day, another post.

Today, my heart breaks for Eleah.  Today, I pray that the labyrinth of grief, with all its twists and turns, will give her peace as she continues to put one foot in front of the other and follow the path that has dead-ends and u-turns and seems to have no end.  Today, I pray for people to walk that path with her, at her pace and  join in her heart cry.  Today, I pray that all of us will find others on the labyrinth path of life who will help us turn our eyes to God and feel God’s presence in the midst of our own grief, joy, anger, peace, confusion–even when those emotions come simultaneously.

What is on your heart today?  What type of ‘psalm’ are you living?

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