Saturday, August 17, 2013

Psalm 80: a lament

I don't do lament well. I like to solve, move forward, and find the positive. During a recent pre-marriage conversation with a young couple, the young woman (a marriage therapist) reflected on her experience of men and women dealing with pain. She said something to the effect that women, by and large, are more comfortable "sitting in the dark places longer" than men are. Hurrying out of darkness or pain too soon, she said, hinders therapy. I've been chewing on that idea all week. "Sitting in the dark place" long enough to do something healthy.
So the text for this Sunday is from Psalm 80, which is a communal lament. I've been reading and re-reading the text. What has happened is that I'm seeing more brokenness and pain around me than ever before. On Friday, waiting for the arrival of my father-in-law's flight, I watched a foursome (an older couple and a younger couple holding a baby). The younger mom handed the baby to the other woman, who I assumed was a friend or parent. The older woman received the baby, wrapped it in a blanket and they walked away. The younger woman radiated pain. I could see her face redden and her shoulders slump. Her husband wrapped his arms around her and she burrowed into his neck as I saw him whispering words into her ear. Her shoulders shuddered as he just held her.
What happened? I'll never really know. But what I guessed is that she was a surrogate mom handing off her child to the persons for whom she bore it and gave birth. It was all lament.
I've been following the unraveling of Egypt and Cairo in particular. We heard from a friend, recently returned, of the fear and terror among believers caught in the violence, watching church after church burned to the ground.
"Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved" vss 3, 7, and 19


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