Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Prayer for One Who Feels Lost

As another day begins I give myself to you, God. I entrust myself into your care, believing that any struggles that come my way today will have the potential of bringing me wisdom.
You have been my strength and my courage when my inner world has been bleak, dark, and dreary. Guide me now in my time of feeling lost.

Source of Light, Source of Love, I turn to you. Be the companion of the lost part of myself as I search for what is needed in my life. Deepen my yearning for you as I wander through the twists and turns of myself.

Come, be with me, Eternal Home, as I search for the road that will lead me more deeply into your heart. Take me by the hand and be the radiant Companion whose presence is enough to give my heart hope and vision. When I feel lost and forlorn, draw me to yourself. As I search for the unnamed pieces of my life, lead me home, lead me home.

Lead me home, lead me home...

taken from an email from Pastor Lori

I have felt lost more and more lately, not least of which culminating in my visit to the seminary in Philadelphia this past weekend. It was a good visit, though it brought ominous - although most likely benign - "signs". I don't believe in signs, at least the thunder-and-lightning-with-God's-voice-bellowing-from-the-sky variety. But I do feel there are forces at work that surround us daily, and every once in a while, we get a glimpse.

Ever so softly, ever so sweetly, we are granted access to the crazy and unintelligible world of spirits. I used the comparison from Lemony Snicket's a while back to talk about the death of a loved one. I use the same imagery - walking up the stairs in the dark, and thinking you have one more step to go, but you don't, and your foot falls for a lifetime into the darkness, finally hitting the ground with a dull thud - to describe the way in which I feel now.

Not necessarily bad, not good. More of a raw emotion that takes its place in my subconscious, flowing through me like a river that brings both life-giving water and hard-to-deal-with change.

As I sat waiting in the lobby of the seminary to meet with the admissions director, I opened up the Philadelphia Inquirer. There it was, on the front page, complete with a 2-page layout: "Distinguished Law Professor dies of Alzheimer's". How do you take that?

This Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday, telling of the story when Jesus goes up to the mountain and is 'transfigured before their eyes'. I also started reading Breathing Space, a memoir about spiritual transfiguration in the South Bronx by a phenomenal Lutheran pastor named Heidi Neumark. Her words make me want to be a pastor, and a bold one at that - a prophetic and compassionate voice of hope and peace in a world so longing for both. Her church is (was) Transfiguration Lutheran. She was ordained on Transfiguration Sunday. And here I was, in an inner-city Philadelphia church, celebrating the Transfiguration of our Lord. Coincidence? Sign? Sometimes our lives are so chaotic and connected, I wonder if anything isn't a sign.

Transfiguration Sunday serves as a prequel to the Lenten season, by far my favorite of the liturgical calender. I don't know why. It's so depressing, so somber, so dark. Yet I can say that this season is what slowly nursed my spiritual health and brought me back into the Christian church. Maybe I'm just drawn to depressing services. There's no doubt that contemplative worship would always be my pick, especially at night.

In fact, sometimes the coming of Easter is somewhat disappointing for me. Holy Week, the week that leads up to Good Friday and then Easter Sunday, is the apex of Lent, as worship services emphasize the pain and loss we feel without Jesus. On Good Friday, the altar is completely stripped of the beautiful and deep Lenten purple and left bare, awaiting the resurrection of the One whom we worship. I look forward to that service like it's my job. The physical nature of taking down any signs of life in the sanctuary reminds me of the Eastern Orthodox Vespers I have attended with Ben. The service is so physical in nature, especially with the incense burning, that it makes me cry every time I've gone. And I can't explain it. But it must have been similar to the disciples when they saw Jesus again, after the crucifixion. The very act of touching his wounds and physically experiencing his pain was enough for Thomas to cry out, "My Lord and my God!" I can understand his exasperation. Thus is the act of physically connecting with another human being. Your soul screams, "I am alive!"

Finally Easter comes and we shout from the rooftops that "Christ is RISEN!", yet sometimes I still long for the introspective time of Lent to linger on.

Well, it's coming, and I may or may not be ready. I may or may not figure out which seminary to attend, or how best I can fit into this chaotic and crazy world. I just pray that I can put my faith in the God that is "the companion of the lost part of myself as I search for what is needed in my life."

2 Comments:

At 12:32 PM , Anonymous Bethany said...

Jason,

Yet again, you seemed to have read my mind. For you see, friend, Lent is my favorite season, too. And while some friends & family find it too depressing... and think I'm crazy for loving this time of year... I know that you understand how good it feels to be surrounded with thoughtfilled worship -- to be turned around -- and futher, to be not only allowed, but encouraged, to delve into this time of mourning...
Yes, lent is my favorite time of year....

And, I also share your confusion regarding seminary's... we'll chat about this, lent, N Cobb, & all else soon...

 
At 12:43 PM , Anonymous David said...

Jason,

What's your snail mail address? I would like to send you a letter
on paper
written in ink
or possibly crayon
with a stamp
and everything

 

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