Thursday, April 28, 2011

Staying Put

When I was growing up in a conservative church, the answer to any problem was twofold: read the Bible and pray. This is good advice as far as it goes, but there are some days when these practices don’t seem to help very much. Psalm 143:4-7a presents a discouraging sequence of events:
My spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is desolate.
I remember the time past;
I muse upon all your deeds;
I consider the works of your hands.
I spread out my hands to you;
my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land.
O LORD, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me.
            Sometimes, even when we do everything “right,” it all goes downhill pretty quickly. To move from a fainting spirit to a failing spirit, all the while musing on God and beseeching for help, seems like a denial of the power of God. The psalmist goes on to ask for guidance and deliverance from enemies, reminding God of qualities such as loving-kindness and goodness. And there it ends, without any clear, ringing declaration of victory.
            I don’t always deal very well with cancelled plans, even when they are changed for good and noble causes. Facing four days of almost no outside contact coupled with work stoppages, I was at a loss. I began planning a four-day weekend away; I might get up the next morning and head out, disregarding high gas prices.
However, before I could get out the suitcases, my friend Liz, whose weekend plans had also gone west, sent me a blessing in an e-mail, “Let’s both have a peaceful day.” I stopped my dithering and took a deep breath, realizing that the plans I’d been frantically making to run away for the weekend were not leading to peace, but to agitation: concerns about packing, cat care, and the financial prudence of such a gesture.
            Instead of running away, I walked to the library to return some books and browse for ideas and new books to read. There were tiny, brave yellow flowers and snowdrops up in some yards. A new book I’d been wanting to read was sitting on the shelf.
            When I came home, with a lighter step than I’d had upon leaving, I sent out two e-mail invitations for the weekend, both of which were accepted, and got a green light on some work. I’d received a gracious response to the plea I read this morning, “Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning.”

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