The Desperation Disciplines

The past two weeks have been a tidal wave of conflicting emotions: loneliness, sorrow, joy, anxiety, homesickness, gratitude, relief, anguish, resolve, love sickness, desire, exhaustion, despair, hope, discouragement, tenderheartedness, ferocity, and encouragement. I have experienced the visceral beauty of community near and far, the joint sigh of longing for wholeness and reprieve. We ache together, but we also press on and celebrate together.

As I am learning to sort through the emotions and challenges and recognize which ones bring me closer to wholeness, and which ones rend my sails, I have put together a list I like to call “The Desperation Disciplines”. Desperate times call for intentional practices to train our joy to remain steady amidst the ebbing tides of change. Honest, yes, but solid foundations don’t fear the rains, they weather them and endure to see the sun shining. These are the simple gestures of rescue I am finding shatter the darkness with light: Lamenting, Singing/Listening to Music, Laughing, Staying Active, Throwing the Party You Wish You Were Going To, Reaching Out, Praying/Meditating,Β and Taking Account of Love. Some of these overlap, but beginning with “Lamenting” I will feature a practice each week and share the working out of it in my own life.

I believe it is possible to lament, and NOT lose hope. Lamenting is a spiritual discipline in which the sediment of brokenness is sifted through to clarity. Being in a state of lamentation is nothing to fear, however it is also not permission to prevaricate in a black hole. It is an acknowledgement of reality but also a choice to keep walking towards a worthy goal, visualizing the prize of your perseverance. Imagine the wild joy of dreams coming true, of falling into the hug of eternity praising your efforts, drinking deeply and splashing ecstatically in the bottomless well of reaping, no longer digging and sweating, wondering if your sacrifice will ever bring fulfillment. “It is finished.” Were more glorious words ever spoken? Lamenting can feel lonely, which is why it is important to turn outward with your lamenting (more on “reaching out” in a later post).

Ways that I lament:

  1. I write poetry. Abstraction is frequently the only way into myself. This also applies to visual abstraction, which is partly why I love going to art museums. I get to subject my soul to the visual poetry of others and either just be seen and held, or healed. The deep spaces of humanity will always cry out to each other.
  2. I write songs, with or without words. Sometimes my feelings have to find their flesh in melody. I have spent hours hovered over a piano, watching my fingers work out their salvation. It is incredibly healing. This practice bleeds into singing, but I will fully expound on that next week.
  3. I call my mother. She has been holding my laments since I left the comfort of her womb.

Hot off the heels of a recent encounter with panic/anxiety, I wrote this poetic lamentation:

 

A ghastly horror grips my core,

A thousand tears and traumas

tore

sore

were they to be trapped so long,

waiting for courage to be sent to swine

no longer to twine

inside my mind.

Darkness pounds against my chest

heating up my fear

to sneer and snarl

at the anchor staid

still

within my heart.

A taste of hell, truly hell,

a white hot sorrow fells my joy,

Will I shatter? Will I drown?

but wait,

a glimmer shimmers through,

a golden melody of truth,

a hand sent down for rescue,

just to rescue me

and set me free.

Wrapped in light

and

Kept in love,

Holding tight to hope

for I believe

I AM

made well again,

and daily

and at night.

 

Happy Lamenting!