Day: March 13, 2020

Lent 16 ~ Thy Hand Upon My Heart


          Yesterday wasn’t the best of days. The sullen hours were pierced and torn by a thousand nails. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It seemed as if almost everyone was at the mercy of something unseen. It upset me to feel this way, especially when exactly a week earlier, God had blessed us with beautiful news. I was annoyed with myself for not being able to summon enough gratitude and thanksgiving to counter these strange yellow nails.

          Strangely, I also felt my angel smile brightly through it all. What is there to smile at? I asked him reproachfully. Something is tearing my day apart – and I’m helping it.

          His response was a cheeky grin.

          Day pressed its secrets into the night’s ear. And yet, a robin remained at his perch in the dark, determinedly singing his last notes for the day. Despite how I was feeling, the oddity registered. I had never heard the robins here sing so late.

          I rose in the hours of pre-dawn today, to hear a lone koel part the dark skies with his call to the unseen sun. Once more, I paused. Never before has a koel in these parts sung this early before.

          What’s with the birds, I wondered. Still, his notes sweetened my heart and I went to my day with a lighter step.

          At work, the stained nails of yesterday raised their hackles in greeting. They were not done with us yet. But it didn’t occur to me to pray them away. I was too fixated upon frustrations uncoiling once more within me.

          The later hours of the day brought even sweeter unexpected news. Dark turned to light. My heart sang with joy for my child.

Hold on a while! the darkest night
May bring the fairest day.
Hold on a while! the good, the right,
Will always find a way.   ~   Amos Russel Well

          But something remained still in nearby shadows. As I laughed and skipped past it, it stood still, watching. Waiting.

          Detesting any form of limelight, I’ve always strived to work away from the public eye. But today, I had no choice, and thus reluctantly took my place in centre court. As expected, I slipped up in public. It was such a minor gaffe, honestly, and I gamely grinned through it. I was too happy then. Seeing the light in my child’s eyes lit even more timbrels of joy in me.

          But as I moved to leave, that unseen shadow, waiting its time, reached out and clawed at me. Immediately, turmoil sprang to feral life within me, this time in the form of shame. As hour slipped into hour, the shame deepened, to the point of humiliation, as the reel of events played on loop. In vain I tried to hold on to the raft of thanksgiving as the waters churned even more.

          Suddenly, I thought of Jesus, stripped to be flogged. Is this from You, Lord? I pressed. Is it You asking me to be part of Your Passion this Friday?

          Yet, even as I asked, I recoiled from it. The pain of the public humiliation was just too much. But something in me for once refused to pay heed to my rebellion.

Jesus, if You wish me to bear this cross, give me the strength for it.

If not, place Thy Hand upon my heart and take this shame away.

          No prizes for guessing which prayer I hoped Jesus would answer.

          For some reason, from time to time, an unseen finger took my chin and turned my face towards the evening sky. The air was filled with the sounds of a day preparing for its rest. The last birdcalls rang out like elfin bells, boughs swayed gently yet cheerily in the warm honey scented breezes.

          Once again, the urge to look at the sky came. The sunset skies now wore bands of orange weeping into gold tinged blues. The sudden beauty of it took my breath away, and with it, for scant seconds, the hidden churning.

          Into that sudden quietening, a realization was slipped into me.

      I was under attack.

          The shame, the relentless amplification of it – it was an attack. Nails tearing into everyone from yesterday – an attack. I hadn’t recognised it for what it was, so I didn’t pray the prayers for it. But I had prayed. I had fought a little and prayed words that were so hard for me.

Thank you, Lord, when frustration threatened to black out my joy.

I love you because my Jesus loves you, for the woman who hates me.

If You wish me to bear this cross, give me the strength for it, for shame I’d rather not bear.

          Each prayer had been a stone in the river of tumult, forming a path across it. As I prayed, I made my way across the raging river. Sometimes, I slipped and fell. But my happy angel had leaned down each time, hand held out to me.

          And on that last stone,

If it be Thy Will, place Thy Hand upon my heart and take this away.

          Then, peace slipped in.