While I was on silent retreat this past winter I found myself drawn to the psalms. I came to the retreat with my own litany of woes, and heard in the voice of the psalmist the faith-through-troubles that was characterizing my spiritual life.
My spiritual director suggested I pick out a few to carry around with me for a day or two, so I went to the psalms with my notebook and pen and searched for those which spoke to me. I expected to find verses of lament, those in which God is implored to end the pain that oppresses the psalmist.
Instead, the verses that resonated with me were those of faith and hope. Even though I was tired and confused and a little bit angry, My heart was still drawn to praise, to be convinced that God’s will is good, that God always delivers us.
I returned to my spiritual director the following day to report this. “I guess I’m just hardwired for hope,” I told him. He smiled and suggested that might be a nice name for a song.
**************************April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
I’ve written before about hope dragging me along, about the pain of awakening during this cruellest month. This weekend I walked to the grocery store. I usually drive, but it’s only 15 minutes or so on foot and the weather was beautiful and it seemed the whole neighborhood was out smiling on the sidewalks. I was feeling a little lonely, since schedules had kept me from being able to see my sweetie over the weekend.
As I turned the last corner toward the apartment I’ve outgrown, feeling sorry for myself that I can’t see the people I love as often as I’d like, the shining sun and the happy people and the warm breeze seduced my imagination, and I began dreaming again. It was a variation on the same silly dream as always, that things work out for us just as we like, in a way that keeps us both moving forward in our careers and near our families. In my minds eye I saw a future happiness that I’ve started to despair of ever experiencing.
It hurt. Hope hurts, sometimes. Dreams make me cry for longing and the emotional exertion of counting on a future good exhausts me. But I can’t help it. The sun comes out and life entrances me, and hope creeps back in against my better judgment.
“Hardwired for hope” – yes! I find that in the times I allow myself to give in to hope, even though I know it may end in pain, I am always glad I did. Even when the tears come. Sure a piece of me feels a bit foolish, but I’m always grateful that I allowed myself to hope.
Thank-you for sharing this! You are in my prayers.
The psalms are THE great songbook/prayer book of the church. One can find every emotion in the psalms, but as you noted, they return to praise, even in the midst of difficulty. I find them supporting my life in ways I never imagined through the years and most certainly during the depression bouts. I am happy you have “discovered” them and encourage you to take up the liturgy of the hours,even in a small portion, which is good.
Beautiful words about the psalms. I’ve been praying the hours for many years and have through them fallen deeper in love with those prayers!
I love how you entwine TS Eliot through your posts. 🙂
Thank you! If I can’t write as well as he, at least I’ll make him work for me.
When my grandmother lost her eye sight I was going through a horrible time in my life … She didn’t have the answers always but she always listened. One day she gave me her bible and told me that she wanted me to have it. I felt a slight amount of guilt and undeserving . I knew how she treasured it. She told me it was ok and that she couldn’t see the words anymore. So I should have it. I told her I didn’t even know how to read it and she said well just start with the psalms. It was the best gift I’ve ever gotten in my life … My grandmother has passed and it hasn’t been a year but I miss her more than I could ever imagined possible ❤️