Waiting in Wilderness: Heaven and I Wept Together

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And so you have a life that you are living only now,
now and now and now,
gone before you can speak of it,
and you must be thankful for living day by day,
moment by moment …
a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present…

~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter

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~Lustravit lampade terras~
(He has illumined the world with a lamp)
The weather and my mood have little connection.
I have my foggy and my fine days within me;
my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter.
– Blaise Pascal from “Miscellaneous Writings”

foggyfield
photo by Nate Gibson

I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
and its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.
Against the red throb of its sunset heart,
I laid my own to beat
And share commingling heat.

Rise, clasp my hand, and come.
Halts by me that Footfall.
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.

~Francis Thompson from “The Hound of Heaven”

supermoonbarn

My days are filled with anxious and sad patients,
one after another after another. 
They sit in front of their screen
and I in front of mine,
so close yet so far from each another –
a wilderness of unexpressed emotions.

They struggle to hold back the flood from brimming eyes.  
Each moment, each breath, each heart beat overwhelmed by questions: 
How to take yet another painful breath of this sad life?  must there be another breath?  
Must things go on like this in fear of what the next moment will bring?

The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the knowledge
that the next moment will be just like the last or perhaps worse. 
There is no recognition of a moment just passed
that can never be retrieved and relived.  
There is only fear of the next and the next
so that now and now and now is lost forever.

Worry and sorrow and angst are more contagious than any viral pandemic.
I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day.
I wish there was a vaccine to protect us all from our unnamed fears in the wilderness.

I want to say to them and myself:
Stop this moment in time.
Stop and stop and stop.
Stop expecting this feeling must be “fixed.”
Stop wanting to be numb to all discomfort.
Stop resenting the gift of each breath.
Just stop.
Instead, simply be
in the now and now and now.

I want to say:
this moment, foggy or fine, is yours alone,
this moment of weeping and sharing
and breath and pulse and light.
Shout for joy in it.
Celebrate it.
Be thankful for tears that can flow over grateful lips
and stop holding them back.

Stop me before I write,
out of my own anxiety over you,
yet another prescription
you don’t really need.

Just be–
and be blessed–
in the now and now and now.

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3 thoughts on “Waiting in Wilderness: Heaven and I Wept Together

  1. I can assure you Emily that to have you as a physician would be such a great source of comfort even amidst the most frightening diagnosis. I am so thankful you are there for the suffering. I pray that God continually strengthens and guides you, and may His merciful, healing hand be upon those in your loving care . May the Kingdom of God come near to your patients. (Luke 10:9)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your insights here are beautiful, Emily — both from a ‘healer’s and as a Christian’s perspective.
    Thompson’s poem, The Hound of Heaven (1859) has always been my most favorite of all time. I think that he used
    Psalm 139 as a guide. I never tire of reading and internalizing its message. Can almost hear the pounding beats of the hound’s feet
    as I read it. Thrills my soul to realize that He does, indeed, love us this much to pursue us at all costs and in all instances!

    A few years ago I found a wonderful modern interpretation of his work written by Gordon MacDonald (1997). Very costly to buy in ‘new’ condition but well worth it and still available through Amazon. I bought three new copies to pass on to my grandchildren someday.
    The title is “The Hound of Heaven: A contemporary Translation of a Timeless Masterpiece (accompanied by original English text)

    Liked by 1 person

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