Monday, July 28, 2008

Addressing tragedy and trauma

What one might consider a tragedy occurs daily in places all over the world, often silently and anonymously and typically outside of the consciousness of those not directly involved in such events. Sacred traditions and their scriptures and prayers offer a medium and a language to express what cannot be adequately expressed in other terms. They reflect our limitations and our triumphs - they follow us to our heights and to our depths.

While the following selections are dedicated to those who touched by the recent events at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, it is offered for all who may be swallowed by confusion and despair. I don't presume they will be a magic bullet for deep pain, but rather an indication that there are those who are willing to join the hurting in their misery.

A selection from The Book of Lamentations (portions of chapter 3)...

He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.

He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.

Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.

Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.

He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver...

He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall. He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.

I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD."

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

And the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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