O Lord, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you.

Psalm 88: 1 O Lord, my God, my Savior, *
by day and night I cry to you.

2 Let my prayer enter into your presence; *
incline your ear to my lamentation.

3 For I am full of trouble; *
my life is at the brink of the grave.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; *
I have become like one who has no strength;

5 Lost among the dead, *
like the slain who lie in the grave,

6 Whom you remember no more, *
for they are cut off from your hand.

7 You have laid me in the depths of the Pit, *
in dark places, and in the abyss.

8 Your anger weighs upon me heavily, *
and all your great waves overwhelm me.

9 You have put my friends far from me;
you have made me to be abhorred by them; *
I am in prison and cannot get free.

10 My sight has failed me because of trouble; *
Lord, I have called upon you daily;
I have stretched out my hands to you.

11 Do you work wonders for the dead? *
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?

12 Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave? *
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?

13 Will your wonders be known in the dark? *
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?

14 But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help; *
in the morning my prayer comes before you.

15 Lord, why have you rejected me? *
why have you hidden your face from me?

16 Ever since my youth, I have been wretched and at the point of death; *
I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.

17 Your blazing anger has swept over me; *
your terrors have destroyed me;

18 They surround me all day long like a flood; *
they encompass me on every side.

19 My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, *
and darkness is my only companion.

I have two loved ones who have each awakened this day with at least the feeling of lament and despair this psalm expresses.  They are each overwhelmed, shut off and out, put away, not seen, and not feeling or knowing the presence of the Lord in their suffering. For different reasons and circumstances, each of them begins this day that the Lord has made not with hope and light but with despair and darkness.

One cries out to God, as the psalmist – ‘hear my prayer, listen to me, don’t forget me!’  The other simply cries, alone.

And I sit here crying with each of them – sort of frozen – knowing that in this moment – right here and now, the Holy Spirit has put this lament before me so that I not give up on the either of them.  At least with respect to doing something, saying something that helps them move from despair to hope, from darkness to the way of love.

Only yesterday was I saying to a dear friend how I had run out of ideas – how my words, prayers, and gestures had been rejected by the one who cries alone.  I recounted to her that nothing I was saying or doing was helping him not shut down, not despair.  My friend wondered with me whether I might just pull back for a season – not give up so much as to lay low, leave him alone.  That didn’t feel quite right, but I went to bed wondering if maybe that was the right next step.  Just leave him alone.  Crying out, “Lord, what would you have me say?  Do?  Here I am, Lord.

Then.  This morning and this psalm.

I am simply stunned at the whispers the Holy Spirit is sending.  I sit at my kitchen table with the day’s readings before me after having spent a moment gazing at a sunrise photo I was sent in my early morning email – one to mark today’s Summer Solstice.  

I have a fond affection for the sun, the moon, stars, and clouds – they are my daily reminders of the depth and breadth of God’s creation. My#cloudsofwitnesses.  My previous night’s prayer and cry out, Let my prayer enter into your presence; incline your ear to my lamentation acknowledged in the receipt of the photo from a friend who knows me, knows my delight at all things sunrise, sunset, clouds, stars, moon. My heart smiled. I had been blessed and seen – my prayer entered into God’s presence.

It was a good moment to turn from the morning emails and business to my quiet time with God’s Word.

But first a soundtrack. I needed one this morning to help me break the anxious silence I experience when I am tuned to self, only.  Instrumental music playing as I read scripture helps me connect with the great #cloudofwitnesses voices that have gone before advising and teaching. And so, I clicked on the instrumental station of Pandora.  A familiar Stanton Lanier piece played. I turned to the readings and read the first psalm.  And then this. This piece played. I knew it by sound, but not the artist nor the title. I looked it up.

The title alone brought me to tears. From the album, A Fresh Beyond, the track, A Mother to Him by Jim Chappell. It was a whisper. I felt blessed and heard.

You see I am in many ways a mother to both of these loved ones. And both are stuck – or believe they are – frozen in a present moment that points to no future, let alone a fresh one.

The album and track title and the melody have me in tears.  I’m a mess of tears and despair myself as I consider their ‘stuckness’ and ‘aloneness’.

One cries out to God, as the psalmist. The other simply cries, alone.

I have prayed with the one who cries out to God. I have been at her side in many such moments throughout the years. The Holy Spirit has had me anoint her, laugh with her. Tease out her rigidly held convictions about sin and judgment and Jesus and misguided theology about personal salvation and heaven as a destination, to get to the heart of the gospel – the kingdom come ‘on earth’. The way of love.

And though today, this day, she is just not feeling it, today though she laments and charges those caring for her with mistreating her, though today she is hasn’t had relief as she believed would come her way because of God’s mercy, she cries out – to our loving abba Father, to God. Like the psalmist. Like Job. Like all who suffer and can’t reconcile the injustice of the world with the loving God they know and trust. Despite – in spite – of her despairing dark no-future without pain moment, she cries out to God.

I have prayed for the one who simply cries, alone. I don’t know that he hasn’t cried out to God. I don’t know where his laments are directed. But as he has closed off voices from those who love him, I suspect he goes deeper and deeper into himself and his shame, unable to see that friend and neighbor haven’t abandoned him.

19 My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, *
and darkness is my only companion.

This psalm before me this morning with this track playing ushered to my heart and mind’s eye these two children of God. Their circumstances and place in life have no connection or commonality but that I am connected to each of them as a ‘mother’.

The Spirit is speaking to me this morning – trying to help me know how I am to help.  I have felt so helpless when it comes to speaking and being the way of love for the one who has put away from himself his friends and neighbors.

I cry out, “What would you have me do? Say? How would you have me be with him?”

Praise you Lord, God who made all things – who began my day with a glimpse of your mighty works in the solstice sunrise and a sense of being seen.  Praise you Lord, God, who brought to my ears the track A Mother to Him as I prayed your word, giving me a sense of being heard.  Praise you Lord God, who put into my care these two suffering children of God.

Praise you Lord God who sent me this psalm to feel my loved one’s existential pain and despair.  I feel it, Lord.  I know how alone they each feel.  I hear them calling in the night.

One cries out to you.  The other simply cries out.

And I cry, too.

1 O Lord, my God, my Savior, *
by day and night I cry to you.

I hear him calling in the night.  Here I am, Lord.  Here I am, loved one.  You are not alone.  Though you cry out not to the Lord, God,   I do! 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Daily Office Readings:  AM Psalm 88; PM Psalm 91, 92
1 Samuel 3:1-21Acts 2:37-47Luke 21:5-19

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