I was honored to be part of the Covid-19 One Year Later A Service of Remembrance, Healing, and Renewal this evening along with my colleagues in the Pittsburgh MultiFaith community. Here is a link to watch the entire service: treeoflifepgh.org/covidservice
And the following is my portion of the program:
O My Beloved, though I have turned from You,
continue to enfold me with your love;
Be gracious to me, Heart of my heart,
for I am sad and weary.
Surround me with your healing light,
that my body, mind, and soul might heal.
How long must I wait, O Love?
I open the door of my heart to You,
Enter in and imbue me with your steadfast Love.
I shall remember You all my days;
I shall sing praises to You throughout the
I am tired of so many fears;
I cry myself to sleep at night, while
grief and feelings of guilt
bedim my eyes with tears.
All my doubts, my fears, are creating walls
so that I know not love.
Depart from me,
you enemies of wholeness,
for the Beloved is aware of my cry;
Love has heard my prayer,
and hastens to answer my call.
Though my fears are running for cover,
yet they shall be forgiven
Illusions that lived in the ego
can now turn to the Light:
I will know peace as I
Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Over the past year I have found comfort in the psalms. Reading and praying with these outpourings of human emotions before God has helped me to feel deeply connected to those who have read and prayed with these texts for generations before and those, I imagine who are doing the same now too.
The psalms remind me that I can tell God absolutely anything. I can be my authentic self before God. I don’t have to sugar coat my words, because God can handle the raw, honest truth about my human experience in the midst of a global pandemic. The psalmists hold nothing back, so I don’t have too either. Sometimes I catch myself lamenting my pandemic experience and think, there are others who have it so much worse, I shouldn’t be upset, and I invalidate my real feelings or pretend I’m just fine. Praying the psalms has taught me that I don’t have to be suffering more than others to lament my condition. These prayers were meant to be read by all of us, not just a select few of the worthy. We are all God’s children, and we are allowed, not only allowed, but expected, and welcomed to crawl into God’s arms to receive comfort from our beloved.
I chose Psalm 6 for tonight, because parts of it resonated deeply with my pandemic experience and I thought maybe those same lines would resonate with your experience. And I know that not everyone has cried themselves to sleep at night, and even those who have don’t always want to admit to it, but I will. There have been nights over the past year when I have cried myself to sleep. Just like the psalmist, and maybe just like you. My hope is that by being a little vulnerable before God and before you, you might have the courage to do the same.
Being vulnerable is scary, but it is the only way to be truly known. Being truly known and loved brings healing. In Psalm 6, after a few vulnerable verses, there is a sudden realization that God has heard the cries of the psalmist. The tone of psalm 6 changes and there is certainty that God will bring deliverance; there is hope and joy.
In my own experience, I didn’t feel instant joy in the morning after crying myself to sleep in God’s arms, but I did feel just the smallest bit better, and that was enough. It was enough healing to get out of bed the next morning. It was enough healing to feel just the smallest bit of hope. God sees, hears, knows, and loves. And that is enough.
What I have learned in the pandemic is that small moments of vulnerability with God make all of the difference in the process of healing my body, mind and soul. And I am grateful to God who sees me and loves me.
This has been a hard year. Many of us have lost loved ones and we gather tonight to remember them and find blessings in those memories. Many of us have been physically sick or have cared for a loved one who was or is still suffering and we gather tonight to pray for medicine to work, for healthcare workers to have wisdom and strength, and most of all for healing. Many of us are simply weary with the emotional toll this year has taken, and we gather tonight to simply not be alone and to find a little hope and comfort. I pray that we all find healing: physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
And here is the bit that I had to cut to make my 5 minute time allotment:
I hope that tonight is one of those small moments of vulnerability with God for you. I invite you to lift your feelings up to God or place them at the foot of the cross or cry them into the divine mother’s arms. Choose your own favorite prayer metaphor. Once you have in mind where your prayers are going, start your prayers by telling God exactly how you feel in your most honest and authentic voice. Be still for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself about other times you have felt this way. Think about how you got through those times. Talk to God about those experiences. Find strength in those memories. Ask God for what you need in this moment to get you through. And you may choose to end your time in the divine presence with gratitude. I hope that this vulnerable prayer brings you enough love, enough hope and enough healing.