A Hard Kind of Prayer

A Hard Kind of Prayer

Gospel :

Mark 4:35-41With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’—————————————-“I love the line,“Lord, don’t you care?”because it is so typical of our reactions.Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Mark is trying to tell us, and like as not, we can’t hear.The sound of the inner wind is deafening us.
“Lord, don’t you care?”We may have to wait out the prayer,wait out the days or weeks,without coming to the quietudewe feel we ought to be able to have.
“Lord, don’t you care?”And that is all we have to offer.So wait there. Offer itDon’t thrash and gnash your teeth wanting to be other thanthe weak and self-interested little disciple in the boat.
The worst aspect of a nervous upheaval–guilt, anger, despair and whatever else is messing up the deeps of our personalities-is trying to counter desperation with desperation.“I have to be good.I have to be the opposite of what I feel:serene, accepting, and peaceful.I have to trust.”
Maybe the kind of trust the Lord is asking for is precisely my putting up with  the experience of knowing, that I am fiercely pulling at his jacket to wake him upand make him into the God I want to be able to please.
It’s a hard kind of prayer.But it acknowledges surrender to the ministrations of a sea I cannot understand.Sr. Miriam Pollard—————————-

    This week one person I encountered stands out. I will call him, Sam, sitting on the corner of Clay/Haight. Sam is around forty, clean-cut, sitting with his backpack, eating candy. He looked very sad.

    Sitting down with him, I simply listened. Sam shared of his wife overdosing on Fenoyal, and almost dying, and he was arrested for the possession of the drug, he talked of his young baby girl dying in an auto accident, and of trauma going back to his childhood.

    Sam talked of always failing, and believed he was a victim of his parents, the police, and society in general. He let trauma victimize him.

    Leaving I  handed him my business card and told him to call any time. Feeling totally drained and reflecting on our conversation thoughts of my own trauma came to mind.

    There has been trauma throughout my life, from being raised in a segregationist community to recently witnessing a young man kill himself, and at every turn, there has been support to lift me up and walk with me. Jesus has always been there.

    As I continued down the street talking and chatting with so many young women and guys whose lives are full of trauma am reminded of the quote:  “that the street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or pregnancy.”

    More and more as trauma becomes known affecting every one a quote comes to mind:

“When we become truly ourselves,

we just become a swinging door.

We are purely independent of

and at the same time, dependent upon everything. Shunryu Suzuki

        We are dependent upon each other, and in the words of Aesop, “No act o kindness, no matter, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

    Each of us is called to be compassionate and as Fr. Henri Nouwen describes

“Compassion is Being With”:

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant people we want to earn our bread by making real contributions. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. …

Those who can sit with their fellow brothers and sisters, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life into a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears of grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.

    The Divine is always present and will assist us in being lifted up, seeing our trauma as a result of circumstances, and assist in transforming our lives.

Whether we live in poverty, on the streets, middle class, or wealthy, we can come to terms with our trauma. We can live out the hard kind of prayer, in being the presence of the Divine in the fellowship of the broken! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, DMin.

PO Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org


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