28 July 2009
Seeking Peace . . .
This world is certainly broken. Sometimes this is evidenced in minor irritations and annoyances, or what one reads in the papers that doesn't touch one directly. Those days it's easy to shrug and coast a little, maybe rest a little.
But then the brokenness overwhelms. I know four people who have lost a parent in the last two weeks. Illness -- a student with a spinal tumor; the recurrence of bleeding in my daughter's angioma, causing seizures; my own chronic pain suddenly increasing by a hundred-fold or so . . . People I love losing homes, jobs, families . . .
What is one to do in the face of overwhelming brokenness? Pray, I suppose. But I haven't the least idea how to pray. Who am I to presume to know what to ask God in the midst of all this sorrow and pain? He didn't send His Son to die so we could all be happy and well in the darkness of a broken world. But neither, in the face of His sacrifice, is despair an option.
So I turn to Scott Cairns again:
Stillness occurs with the shedding of thoughts. - St. John Klimakos
Of course the mind is more often a roar,
within whose din one is hard pressed to hear
so much as a single word clearly. Prayer?
Not likely. Unless you concede the blur
of confused, compelled, competing desires
the mind brings forth in the posture of prayer.
So, I found myself typically torn,
if lately delivered, brow to the floor,
pressing as far as I could into prayer,
pressing beneath or beyond the roar
that had so long served only to wear
away all good intentions, baffling prayer.
Polished hardwood proves its own kind of mirror,
revealing little, but bringing one near
the margin where one hopes to find prayer --
though even one's weeping is mostly obscured
by the very fact and effect of one's tears,
which, for the time being, must serve.
*"hesychia" means "peace"
Update: Scott Cairns, in a comment below, graciously tells me that "'hesychia' is more nearly translated as 'stillness,' indicating a deep quiet, of body, mind, and spirit."