Sometimes I think we’ve lost the Song of Lament. It’s been hushed and squelched and medicated and ignored and given dance moves and disguised as jazz or blues or another country song.
I wish I could write a song tonight. It would be a lament. It would be full of tears and wails and questions. It would lash out at all the things that are wrong with my world. Yes, I know. There’s plenty out there, people I don’t know, suffering injustice and sorrow and loss and reversal. I know. Someone should sing a song of lament for this old world and all that’s wrong in it.
But there’s enough to wail about in my own world that I really could write enough verses to keep me lamenting for a long, long time.
I weep for the suicide of Sierra. The long weeks since she chose to leave this life have been lingering grief for me. So much promise, so much ability, poured out, wasted. This blood shed wantonly, like a careless sacrifice, never enough to atone for anything, haunts me. “Sierra, if you were here, you could write a song for me . . .”
I weep for my youngest grandson, Frankie. Two months ago, in a playground incident, he was knocked off the monkey bars, called the “n” word, and suffered a concussion. I know that race will always be a factor in the lives of our three handsome grandsons, and I can’t fight all their battles for them. But in my helpless fury, I ache for the ongoing pain, physical as well as emotional, and wish there was a way to stamp out the hatred that gets passed from the adults to the kindergarteners, first and second graders. I pray that the MRI gives answers, and I pray that it is something that is easily fixed, and I pray for his heart and the fears that hold him back, and I lament a little boy who, along with his brothers, faces such big issues.
I weep for the marriages within my extended family that are troubled and fractured and seemingly beyond repair. I wish there were some magic answers and I wish for hearts to be turned towards the Father first, then towards each other. My lament rises highest for the children — the children! – caught in the confusing mess of divided loyalties, contradictory messages, wanting only for their parents to somehow fix what is wrong, and bring back the homes that no longer exist. How do you mend the broken hearts? How do you revive the hope that brought two people to a marriage that now lies broken. And it isn’t just one marriage. If only it were just one . . .
I weep for the choices of people I love that will surely end in sorrow and regret. I know that only God can change the hearts of men, and He only does that as people allow Him to, but I can continually pray for softened hearts. I pray for circumstances and people placed in their way, strategically, and unpredictably that will turn their thoughts and their hearts towards JESUS. And I choose to believe that GOD has a plan, but I lament the wasted years, the missed opportunities, the Kingdom Work that would have benefited from the gifts of these people I love, and I lament the loss of easy camaraderie that comes when people believe that God is alive and at work in the affairs of men and share the stories of Grace with freedom and excitement and unity.
I lament the unknown future of a little girlie that we know as Babysweete. I’ve prayed and begged, and wept and hugged myself to try to keep the hurt that tastes like acid in my throat, from spilling like hot sauce into my stomach. And my loss isn’t as great as that of my son and his bride and their three sons. It makes me weep some more – to see their steadfast commitment to doing what they feel they have been called to do, even when they are misunderstood, or things are said that are singularly unhelpful, or their own grief and loss wants them to draw back. I feel the sadness, bitter as gall in the back of my mouth and my head wants to turn away, because I remember. I try not to look, but the grief, forty years old, shakes itself from its lair and rises, grizzled and slow, and lumbers across the timbers of my heart, breaking them once again. And I hear the dirge rising almost unbidden at the strangest times and in the strangest places, and I want to give it voice, and I want to give it volume, but I don’t know how . . . I don’t know how . . . except to write it down somewhere, and then it isn’t quite so scary anymore.
There are more verses that could be written into this lament. I could call one “OGN.” I could call one “drought.” I could call one “Schedule.” I could call one “Stubborn.” I could call one “Pain.”
But it wouldn’t do any good to go on and on. My Sweet Mama used to say, “If you smile for a while, You’ll forget that you are blue.” (She would even sing that to me now and then when the situation warranted it. That wasn’t any fun!) The funny thing about a lament is that, when you get done, you really do feel better! And I do. A whole lot better. So much better, in fact, that my previous intention of writing this all down and trying to think up some minor key to express it all is far less attractive.
I have been very honest with you all tonight — you’ve seen the rawer side of this Delaware Grammy. I am not always happy. I don’t always feel grateful. Sometimes I feel like an honest, loud lament would be a pretty good expression of my heart. (Do they still have professional mourners in the Jewish circles? Maybe I could hire someone!) Now that this is written down, I think I’ll go to bed. It’s later than I intended, and my mornings, though not as early as they once were, still come sooner than I like. We are supposed to have rain tomorrow. And for this we can petition all this Delmarva Peninsula. “Lord Jesus, send the rain!”
And honestly, with or without a lament, I’ve learned that giving thanks is still the best antidote for any heavy heart.
And so, through the choking of my lament, my heart gives grateful praise.