Tag Archives: weeping

36: Lament

36 lament 640px-Western_wall_jerusalem_night pub domain

I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds have all fled and the animals are gone.” Jeremiah 9:10 NIV

 

Laments are something we don’t really do in the western northern hemisphere any more. I think this speaks volumes about the illusions we surround ourselves with. We seem to think that because we have more that we feel less. We seem to understand the world and our emotions in terms of satisfied stomachs and libidos, instead of realising that our hearts are deeper and more easily affected than that.

There are a lot of things to lament, and the loss of wildlife, as in the prophecy above, might well be one of them. Our so-called progress has come at a very high price. We might then, sing or pen a lament about the cruelty to animals, the intensivity of farming or consumer culture, or the oppression of the poor that marks our modernity. We might, in the UK today, sing a lament about the way the junior doctors and the NHS are being treated by the government, or about the rise in use of food banks, or about the refugee crisis.

We need also to sing personal laments, songs of our own misery, not to wallow in the sadness, but to express it. We all have griefs in our lives, and our society does not teach us what to do with them. Some will affect us for the rest of our lives, a loss, a bereavement, an assault, these are things that should be lamented, for those powerful emotions stuffed back down inside will squash our inner selves and suffocate the joy that longs to well up to counter them.

Lamenting is healthy and about giving voice to truth. The Psalms teach us the very best ways to lament, for even in desolate sadness they always come back to a hope in the Living God. Our feelings must never rule us on their own, they need to be tempered by reason and love. This is precisely why they need expression. Our stiff upper lips need permission to wobble a bit and let go. There is no sense in pretending all is well, no medals in life given out for telling everyone everything is going swimmingly when you feel like you are drowning. Let it out, let it go, express it, hear it, learn from it. Repeat if necessary, whenever you feel overwhelmed, especially if you are grieving, which is a never-ending process in many ways. But like breath, don’t hold it in.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

public domain photo, the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

2: The Valley of Baka

2 Valley of Baka Sisterbluebird MF

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” Psalm 84:5-6

These verses may not mean much to us until we discover that Baka (or Baca) means weeping, or tears. On our pilgrimage, our journey through life with God, there will be many sorrows. But if we travel with him, relying on his strength and not our own, those times of tears can be transformed into wellsprings full of life.

Many are the times I have sat, feeling like Alice in Wonderland, having cried so much from the pain or the heartbreak, the tragedies or even the general disappointments I’ve encountered, that I wonder if I will, in fact, drown in my own tears. And yet I feel that if my tears are given to God, they may become like the pools in the Valley of Weeping, and like the rainy seasons that are desperately awaited in so many countries, the waters will come and bring new life and greening. There is no landscape so dead or desolate that God cannot redeem it, and no sadness so deep that he cannot change its salt water to freshness.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

photo from morguefile.com