Closed roads, cars stuck and snow shovels in early October is just wrong. Of course, that’s exactly what we experienced a couple of weeks ago here in the Wild West.
However, the weather these past 10 days has been stunning. Warm, mostly calm and sunny.
The weather here has been absolutely fabulous.
And thank God it has been nice, because inside my heart there has been some dark and heavy weather settling in.
It’s a deep kind of anguish that rolls in like a summer storm, loud and menacing, crashing and pouring. But unlike our typical storm, it is lingering, still, angry and looming overhead.
I am genetically engineered to be an optimist, a hoper, an idealist.
And then I officiate three funerals in five days. The sun slips behind the cloud.
A woman tells me that her abusive husband promises to kill her one day. I see a flash of lightning.
Then a young family’s house burns to the ground and I catch a glimpse of a brilliant man who spends most of his aging days completely alone. Overhead the storm clouds are heavy and menacing.
I stand in awe at the power of the storm. It almost takes my breath away. It certainly defies words.
I find myself speechless.
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The winds of people’s adversities, their pain, their trouble ties up all my normally effortless, uncomplicated words, my answers to life’s questions.
Today I don’t have words, or satisfactory answers, to offer. I am not sure what to pray. The storm is too heavy.
Gratefully, I don’t need words to pray.
There is a Chasidic story that communicates what I am feeling:
“A poor man, lost in the woods, found himself at nightfall without his prayer book, so he addressed this petition to the Almighty: ‘Dear God I have done a stupid thing: I do not have my prayer book. And I have such a poor memory that I cannot recite the prayers by heart.
‘But you know all the prayers, Lord, so I’ll just recite the letters of the alphabet, and You put them together in the right way.’
And the Almighty regarded that prayer, because of its sincerity, more worthy than any of the others He heard that day.”
It reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Christ-following Romans, who were maltreated, maligned and murdered for their faith.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless sighs, our aching groans” (Romans 8:26).
Honestly, I doubt our actual words matter little to the Author of Life. I think that what he cares most about is the way our hearts chase after him in the storm.
Furious storms come... and sometimes they settle in for awhile. That’s just the way it is this side of eternity. But there is a God who, when the storm rages on, hears our heart’s petition despite the words we use or those we can’t seem to form in a single sensible sentence.
I don’t know about you but today I’m praying, “Dear Lord, A B C D...”