Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oh, Walter

One of the treasures I've unearthed over the last year is the value of written prayer.  In my darker moments, I struggle to pray anything more articulate than help, why?, seriously?!, or please, please, please. Which is fine, of course.  I believe God hears honest prayers - even when the prayers are just sobs or moans or fists slammed into the steering wheel over and over.  But written prayer allows me to move beyond myself, gives me words I couldn't find, and challenges me to be more honest than is my tendency.  When I can't think of anything much to say to God, reading and praying words other people have written and prayed allows to me connect with the divine in a new way.

I have been praying the Daily Offices and trying to maintain a consistent habit of regular prayer, which challenges me to praise when I feel only like bemoaning my sad affairs.  The Daily Offices are good stuff, but I am really in love with the prayers of Walter Brueggemann (check out Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth or Prayers for a Privileged People).  Sometimes I feel like I'm reading something I shouldn't - his prayers are that honest and raw.  I posted this one on Facebook earlier this week, with some trepidation that I'd be called out for blasphemy.  Who am I - a woman living in the wealthiest county in the United States, married to the world's kindest and most wonderful man, surrounded by so much love and privilege - to admit that sometimes I feel like God is holding out on me, short-changing me?  It may be wrong to feel this way, but it doesn't make it less true, and I'm fairly sure God's not fooled by my pretense anyway.

 The Psalms are another collection of someone else's prayers, given, I think, in part, to show us how to pray.  It seems to me from my reading of those texts that there are times for confessing God's goodness whether we feel it or not, for offering our gratitude as best we can, for asking God for tongues to praise Him even when we doubt.  But I also think there are times to admit our secret doubts, to dare to bring them to the light, and to see what happens next.

But Now You Know

You are the one from whom no secret can be hid,
who sees behind all our piety, pretense, and cover-up...
and we are the ones with many secrets,
some shameful, some shocking, some risky...
all of them precious to us.
We begin this day with that acknowledgement before you,
you seeing and knowing us, a perfect match for our hiddenness.
Those secrets - conventionally - are about
having done that which we ought not to have done,
having not done that which we ought to have done.
And there is enough of that for the day.

Just behind that - other secrets more telling and risky
and surely more scandalous:
that behind our ready faith comes impatience with you,
that behind our eager vocation lurks cynicism,
because nothing changes,
that behind our gratitude toward you
is our sense that you are stingy with us,
that behind our much prayer is our sureness about your
absence, indifference, and detachment.
All of that - our deep disappointment in you - is signed
by our fidelity unappreciated,
by alienation all around not swamped by your love,
by loneliness not visited in gestures of communion,
by all the intractable issues of poverty, homelessness, and violence that we take to be your proper business.
We will keep praying - but now you know.
We will keep praying, but wondering, daring to doubt.
We pray in all our Friday candor. Amen.

-Walter Brueggemann

No comments:

Post a Comment