Black & Blue, Sitting Underneath the Red Umbrella
It is my intention, every day, to enter into formal prayer four times a day: morning prayer, noonday, evening prayer and compline. I am as faithful to that intention as I am human — which means that I fail a good deal of the time to live out my intention.
But I am grateful for that intention, even though I don’t live into it perfectly.
I have been sad this week. When I am sad I have the most difficulty keeping up with my prayers. Just when I need prayer the most is when I tend to abandon it. It doesn’t make much sense, I know, but again, I am human.
When the mere idea of opening The Red Book (aka the Book of Common Prayer) seems too much, I sometimes download morning prayer from the Episcopal Church in Garrett County (you can subscribe to their podcasts through iTunes). It was the reading of the psalm that pulled me out of my sad space yesterday and dared me to open The Red Book.
It was like an umbrella opened over me — a big, red umbrella — a shield, a comfort, a hiding place. I was not alone. Listen to the words of the psalmist:
Psalm 38 (1979 BCP) Domine, ne in furore
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger; *
do not punish me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have already pierced me, *
and your hand presses hard upon me.
3 There is no health in my flesh, because of your indignation; *
there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities overwhelm me; *
like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
5 My wounds stink and fester *
by reason of my foolishness.
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; *
I go about in mourning all the day long.
7 My loins are filled with searing pain; *
there is no health in my body.
8 I am utterly numb and crushed; *
I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
9 O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, *
and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
11 My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; *
my neighbors stand afar off.
12 Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; *
those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot treachery all the day long.
13 But I am like the deaf who do not hear, *
like those who are mute and do not open their mouth.
14 I have become like one who does not hear *
and from whose mouth comes no defense.
15 For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense, *
those who gloat over me when my foot slips.”
17 Truly, I am on the verge of falling, *
and my pain is always with me.
18 I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin.
19 Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, *
and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
20 Those who repay evil for good slander me, *
because I follow the course that is right.
21 O LORD, do not forsake me; *
be not far from me, O my God.
22 Make haste to help me, *
O Lord of my salvation.
Now that, that is sad.