Psalm prayers + silent Saturdays

I am glad for Psalm prayers I don’t write and for Saturdays where silence can really stretch out. I didn’t realize I was whispering at the bagel shop until the sweet red-haired girl leaned in closer and raised her eyebrows over tortoise shell Warby Parkers, “Sorry, hon, what did you say?”

“Um, ehm.. I’d like an egg and avocado…”

“Oh, you want number 4 on 7 grain? Anything else?”

I felt like a child whose mom sent her out for eggs and this redhead knew I was breaking the rules. But I just bought a Dirt Devil and I’m hosting Thanksgiving, so I read the [free copy of the] New York Times like I belonged in the adult world. I picked up a few groceries on my way home. And when I got home, I stayed. I baked and pureed pumpkin, hand wrote a few cards, made brown sugar+cinnamon+chocolate chip cookies for tomorrow, put away dishes and drank tea. (Okay, I also ate four Oreos but I did not feel good about that). At some point in the middle of the candlelit silence, I read this:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses. (Psalm 33:6-7 ESV)

And I breathed prayers without any new words. All these Psalm words are prayers enough and my words can’t get that big. My words can’t make heavens and my breath can’t make host to fill them. The waters ignore my commands and the deeps don’t respond. Only God can do this. And only God would want to cause this kind of creation commotion when He needs no one and no thing.

I feel very created today, very in my place.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22 ESV)

Why is the One who gathers the waters in a heap also my help and shield? And how is He that?

The radiator is hissing in the corner, sputtering like antique apartment heaters do. It feels selfish to stay indoors, but I don’t feel well and I can’t remember the last day when I didn’t have plans. I suppose that is an excuse. Scripture needs silent space and time. I came to no conclusions and wrote no prayers; I don’t feel better or wiser. But I am remembering. I remember who the Lord says that He is. And I remember that I trust Him.

I trust that He is God and He has not given up on His redemption plan. He is very much in the middle of making all things new – old things and dead things and dry bones and this old, stubborn heart.

I’ve been a lot of inward lately. Last week, I was walking out of the subway after a frustrating stop-and-go “We are delayed because of train traffic ahead. We apologize for any inconvenience” situations. I was bundled and hunched and leaving sighs on the sidewalk when someone touched my arm and pulled me close. Patrick was leaving to go to work, but caught me just in time to say, “Hey, I love you.” I hoped that he couldn’t see all the self-pity in my face because the streetlight lit up his and it was full of the best husband love.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1 ESV)

Sometimes living is labor. I don’t mean working the 9-5. I mean just living. I let Psalm 127:1 sing over some of the silence today until it felt like my deeps started to listen.

And I remember. Unless the Lord builds the house (read: plans, days, vocation, prayer, family, community), I will labor in vain. My building efforts end up being for my own glory or my own preservation or my own pride. But, the Lord – He is a great builder and none of His plans go to waste. None.

It is still Saturday and there is a bit of it left to savor.


To read more from my grief journey, you can find those posts here.

I shall not want

It happened yesterday in Prospect Park – when I was rounding the bend down the slope, right after I stopped to take a picture of the lake. The Saturday children’s soccer games were in the middle of playful competition on the fields, various groups clustered around pastel balloons for birthday parties, and there was a small gathering who had followed hand-painted wooden signs down a slight slope to celebrate a wedding.

The colors were turning, but soft like a whisper. The sun was making warm paths of light to reach the turning leaves on the opposite side of the lake.

I got emotional.

I suppose that isn’t surprising, given my emotional history and over-dramatization of most events, at least for story’s sake. But it did surprise me and I had to close my eyes for a few paces to collect myself.

Have you ever stretched out your fingers into rays of sunlight? All the mystery of those rays reaching us, dancing on our fingertips, evading our capture – it normally makes me marvel. How is it that the light that warms our faces comes from a gigantic spherical furnace? How is it that it gets as far as earth and remains at the perfect distance to sustain life? How is it?

Normally, rays of light and soccer games and birthday parties and wedding celebrations make me marvel, but yesterday they made me emotional. I guess because I couldn’t hold the light or be in the soccer game or sit with the ladies in lawn chairs or wave a flag at the wedding.

I felt very small and very disconnected – like knowing and being known here is too distant a thing to reach.

The faces I met – on bikes and in strollers and in road weary running shoes – I did not know, not a single one. Commotion is not hard to come by in this city and with it the potential that I am missing out on something beautiful. Festivals, neighborhood parties, service events, art openings – commotion and opportunity and all this potential for beautiful make me acutely aware when I am outside and unattached.

This is not my city, yet. And it took me a while to shake the feelings last night or to do more than resolve the feelings away. Sometimes it is good to feel what you feel – to step into it fully and make peace with the way it got tangled inside.

This morning, I have different eyes to see the shortness in my chest for what it was: fear.

Today I’ll reach out and let the same sun dance on my fingertips, but I will choose to marvel because I have a God who keeps His promises. I know a God who is my Savior and who has promised to provide and protect and preserve these bones.

I shall not want.

and the nightmares and monsters

…and your biggest fears seem lightyears away, no they won’t find you here.

This saturday feels like a sigh I’m not afraid to sink into.

There’s a lot of rushing that happens Monday-Friday, even if we don’t admit to being in the race. At about 6 o’clock Friday night after my last appointment, I started sinking – the good kind of sinking.

I have this crazy determination that there won’t be moments or days or phases of my life that I have to hold my breath to get through. You know the kind – where you play, “Just get through it” over and over in your mind. Maybe you fix your eyes on the end of the tunnel and haul out in a full-on sprint?

Do you know the moments and days and phases I’m talking about?

Well, I never want to hold my breath because I believe there is grace enough to breathe in every moment. There is grace enough to take deep breaths and conquer fear and worry and pain even while I’m stuck inside all of it.

That said, 6 o’clock yesterday was like the perfect breeze. It was extra grace – more space to smile and laugh and stretch my hands out to feel the motion. And the nightmares and monsters of the weekday grind fade for a little bit while the weekend happens.

There is a special kind of grace that allows for us to rest.
This is the grace of my saturday sigh and I’m not one bit afraid to sink into it – that place where those weekday things seem lightyears away.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

a day, brilliant all on its own

The sun was brilliant today.

The wind sure fought hard, but the sun definitely stole this Saturday show. It came in through our front windows like we invited him in for morning coffee, like God knew we needed real warmth and not the manufactured kind.

Can a day ever just be brilliant all on its own?
Can it be beautiful without something specific making it so?
Can a day make you all kinds of emotional?

This day did.

So, I am singing the songs stored inside my heart and believing God is good for His promises. There’s a miracle making merry in my soul – a miracle on the other side of every believing step.

Step.
[He is faithful!]
Step.
[He is faithful!]
Step.
[He is faithful!]

When I believe the Lord is good for His promises, the boldness of my steps proclaim the greatness of One who keeps His word. And with each step, my heart wants more of His glory to be proclaimed – it’s a crazy exponential equation. Get more grace, believe more grace, proclaim more grace, all to the magnifying glory of the Lord.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy