Lament: A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.

Guitarist with flagThe word lament entered into my consciousness this week. First, my executive coach encouraged me to read Lamentations 3 in the Hebrew Bible as a way to emotionally frame my present experience of life. At about the same time a series of chords on my guitar started to play themselves. As I let the music flow out of me a working title began to emerge. I felt like I was writing “An American Lament.”

What my heart is saying my mind does not yet fully understand. But it is like grief and sorrow is pouring out of me and oozing from my pores. I so badly want to be up to the moment saying what needs to be said, showing up where people most need me, and being responsible to the calling of this position and this time. But I am amazed by how much time just attending to the presence of grief and sadness and often, anger, takes. There is a numbness and a paralysis that seems to have invaded the very marrow of my bones.

Yesterday I hit a wall.

I had intended to work a full day. But by early afternoon the signs of mental fatigue became clear as I sat staring blankly at emails with no hint of how to plow through them. I blasted one more email to the staff, “Flexing the rest of the afternoon off to get some fresh air and shut out the craziness for a bit.”

riverI often drive when I need to clear my head and drive I did. Over the course of two hundred miles and five hours, I drove through the Willamette Valley countryside, followed the Clackamas River up into the mountains, looked at big beautiful wet drooping trees, walked along the cascading river, stopped for a cranberry/grapefruit Sobe and crunchy butter toffee peanuts, listened to John Denver, the Lumineers, Seals and Croft, and Ray LaMontagne among others, and stopped for fresh Oregon strawberries to adorn my bowl of ice cream.

strawberriesIn other words, I replaced the grief with goodness. For a few hours I filled myself with life and beauty, music and munchies. I breathed some of the world’s heaviness out and breathed the lightness of God in.

Was it a once-for-all magical cure to the grief and sorrow of our time? No, but it was enough for that day. Enough to remind me that today, too, I need to walk along the river near my apartment again, listen to more music and FaceTime with loved ones. Enough to remind me that every day must make room for some grief and some goodness.

This is the rhythm of my life. This is the rhythm of our time.

Tonight I will work on another verse of my song, “An American Lament” and then…

I will eat strawberries and ice cream.

By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades

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