I wait on the Lord…and scream

Lent 5A: Psalm 130

Edvard Munch, 1893

“The Scream”, Edvard Munch, 1893.

I’ve had a recurring dream from childhood.  The details change, but the ending is always the same.  I’m in danger and I need to say something.  I scream at the top of my lungs and nothing comes out.  I try again.  Nothing.  Silence.  I awake breathing heavily, gripped with the terror of not being heard.

I sometimes wonder if the gift of the psalms is less the soaring hymns of praise, and more the dirges, “the screams” of lament.  Prayers that capture the fear,  anxiety, and loneliness that we all face.  Prayers that give voice to the feelings our culture refuses to hear.  Drown them in addiction.   Cover them with work, study or exercise. Numb them with distracting glow of our devices, but do not talk about it.

How many among us are,”crying from the depths,” but feel like we’re not  making a sound?   Screaming loudly, but feeling unheard?

The psalmist teaches us that we can say these things to God, and that God will listen, but does not glamorize the conversation.

He compares our waiting on God to”the watchman waiting for the morning.”

3am walks through sterile hospital units when I could think of nothing but sleep.  Dark mornings shivering in my sleeping bag waiting for the sun to come up.  Anxious nights staring at the red numbers of the clock.

Prayer can be like this.

Slow.  Agonizing. Frustrating.  A (seemingly) one-sided conversation.  We speak to God,  and then we want God to speak or change our circumstances.   We have moments of surprising peace, love, and insight, when we are confident that God has spoken into our lives, but those moments don’t happen everyday.  They are not something that we can predict or reproduce.  And so we wait.

Maybe “the waiting” is what it’s all about?

The author’s language moves fluidly from “my” and “I” to the whole of “Israel”.   His indecision suggests that we are really never waiting alone.

Others are waiting with us, or waiting for their own reasons altogether.  Maybe if we don’t feel seen or heard by God,  its because we are not being seen and heard those around us.  Maybe we aren’t allowing them to do that for us.

Perhaps God’s answer  is not in some words we feel spoken to us in isolation, but in giving us others to wait with.

Crying out together, tasting redemption together in our shared vulnerability, and hoping for that redemption yet to come.



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