I came here seeking answers. Lots of them.
Anne Lamott says she knows only two prayers- “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I would add to that my own two – “I love you, love you, love you,” and “guide me, guide me, guide me.”
I surrendered my list of “Guide me’s” when I entered silence last night…I laid them all on the altar….save one.
One I kept in my tight-clenched fist, unknowingly holding it up to Jesus with every prayer. My heart whispering, “Guide me, guide me, guide me.” The promise of a new book- a book with 124 pages already written, no ending in sight and a six month writer’s block that wouldn’t budge.
I didn’t realize I had held onto it until I voiced it in spiritual direction this morning. My director, Judy, pressed into that question.
“It feels like you are holding this gift from God very close to your heart? I wonder. Is that part of what is binding you up?”
Fear began its creep up my spine…slowly, like a tentative spider, tick-tickling its way up to my shoulders. I felt my eyes dart to the ground as I pondered and denied. Jesus, bind fear…help me stay open, I prayed silently inside.
“Yeah, I think it is.” I said finally, not really committing to doing much about it. What about this Lord? Can I keep this?
Jesus answered through this slight, gentle woman across from me.
“The story that comes to mind is the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac.”
Oh, Dear Jesus, no! Sharp intake of breath, the fear spider swooping in for the kill now.
“What would you say if God asked you to put this book you are writing on the altar?”
I must have visibly recoiled, for the question softened and was tempered by this gentle woman….by an even gentler God.
“…maybe not for good, but just for this weekend.”
“I can do that. Yes, God…I will do that.”
I sighed relief thick and heavy and felt God’s antitoxin for fear venom sweep through me- the peace of surrender and trust.
As we finished, Judy prayed for me…for us…
“Jesus, we give you these gifts. We give you the give you these things we create from our great giftedness- the giftedness You gave to us. We give you this book that you and Cari have been writing together. We give you the grief of loss- grief that comes when our gift isn’t fully brought to life, grief like that of having a stillborn child. We give you this stillborn child now…bring Cari peace in its place. “
The image struck me cold and hard and I realized that it was perfect. That is it. I have been grieving the still birth of this promise unrealized. I have been grieving the fear that it would never be at all…that I had misheard and misunderstood. I have been grieving for the doubt that has welled up in its place.
What a gift Judy and God gave to me in that moment. A sadness named. Grief…that is the name of this sadness that sweeps away my joy. I breathe in the peace of a person who is at home in the silence and breathe in the peace of a God who sends his rescue even when we don’t know that we are trapped.
Jesus, I unfurl my hands and give you this stillborn child. There is still hope that you will breathe your life into it and return her to me – full of life and vigor. But I lay her on the altar now, Jesus.
A Reflection on this reflection:
It’s so interesting to me to see how God uses experiences in our lives to prepare us to receive wisdom from Him. Just two weeks ago, I played Jairus’ wife (Jesus raises her daughter from the dead during his ministry) in our church’s resurrection drama, The Savior and the Scarlet Thread. I was looking through pictures of the drama and this one caught my eye.