Friday, July 03, 2009

Prayers (Starting with Chocolate)

I started the day with chocolate. That's pretty unusual for me these days, and a fairly solid reflection of how I'm doing emotionally. Chocolate before breakfast probably means I'm struggling a bit.

I'm trying to follow the advice from today's quote on the calendar from my friend that sits on my desk: "We shall not be purified by looking at our miseries, but by gazing on him who is all purity and holiness." (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)

I'm struck by the fact that today is the feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. I feel a particular affinity for Thomas. When I saw that today was his feast day, I was transported back to a moment in Rome last year. I spent quite a bit of time trying to take a photo of a painting of Thomas with his hand in the wound in Jesus' side. A painting that deeply struck me. If I remember correctly, it was hanging in the Pantheon. I still don't have a good picture of it. All of the photos I have of that painting are blurry, because my hands were trembling too much to hold the camera still enough to take a clear photo. But something about that moment, that painting remains deep within me, and, when I read that today was Thomas' feast day, I was carried back to those few minutes, standing in front of the painting, and I felt again the impact that it had deep within me.

I found myself praying as I drove to work this morning. Praying along with bits and pieces of lyrics from two totally different songs. Lines from a Taylor Swift song, "I was a dreamer before you went and let me down... This ain't a fairy tale... it's too late for you and your white horse to catch me now..." And lines from a U2 song that was playing through my head as I woke, "Nothing to win and nothing left to lose... And you give, and you give, and you give yourself away... and I'm waiting for you... with or without you..." And so I let the lyrics give expression to parts of my heart that were hurting, and I worked to speak blessing over people and things I care about, even though in many ways, my heart is not ready to speak blessing yet - it would rather speak curses.

There are things in my life that were established by God, but the pull from them, as I wait and watch them develop, can at times become so strong that they become my focus. They become a distraction. I start obsessing and worrying, and stop talking with Jesus. I'm tired in the midst of all of that right now, and I'm trying to talk to Jesus, with whatever words my heart can form, even if they're slighty bitter lyrics from a country love song, or lyrics from an Irish rock band that spoke to my heart from the first moment I heard one of their songs (a moment I could still describe for you quite vividly).

And so I wait, and I'm seeking Jesus, and seeking to choose life, to somehow find joy in the midst of this day. (And I started my day with chocolate... a miniature kit kat bar, carrying so many memories of the time I spent in Europe, and a prayer in its own rite today.)