Photo taken at lunch this week.
A reflection on Psalm 56
“Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long. . .”
I watch, helpless and adrift.
The enemies are winning, O God,
the wormholes are growing.
The past is but a whisper,
the present, lost in the whirlwind,
those swirling terrors of fear and confusion.
Where are you, O Lord?
Where are you?
Come and rescue us, return to us the days
the locusts have eaten,
the swarming hordes
devouring her memories,
erasing her story.
I watch and I weep, tears my companion day and night.
They sit, just behind my eyes, waiting to ambush me,
to gut me, knock me to my knees.
And she slips away, Lord.
Every single day,
she slips away.
Piece by piece, slice by slice, word by word.
“All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.”
She sees them, I think,
floating just above her in the ether.
And she reaches . . .
she reaches and cannot quite get a grip.
The words she wants, they slither away, taunting us both.
What did she want to say? What did it mean?
“Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll –
are they not in your record?”
My tears, her tears,
sometimes I do not know the difference.
We are so tightly connected.
Is this taut umbilicus
too tightly strung?
Release me, Lord.
Laughter comes less often now.
But it comes.
Amid the tears, there are smiles.
Thank you for glimpses, O God,
for glimpses of grace,
for reminders of what once was,
of what still is.
“In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise –
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere human beings do to me?”
Ah, Lord. Give me a trusting heart,
give me eyes to see and ears to hear
the mother I now have.
And grant me, O Lord,
the truth of your presence,
the beauty of your love.
I hold the picture you gave,
that vision of the heart of Jesus,
more immense than the universe,
more glorious than the sunrise,
more safe than sanity,
more whole than a right mind.
And she is there, isn’t she?
Right there, in the center of your heart.
That great heart of love . . .
love for her
and love for me.
Thank you. Thank you.
“For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.”
Today I will pray it this way –
“For you have delivered her through death. . .”
For that is where deliverance waits.
And she will sing again, voice clear,
She will rejoice.
And so will I.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty and dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
— Jude 1:24-35
(A small aside: If she takes a step outside of the usual ‘script’ of ‘how are you my dear? and ‘how are your children?’ — my mother now struggles to make complete sentences, unable to say whatever it is that lurks in her heart. Today she said it this way: “So much of me is lost.” And yes, that is true. But the core, the beautiful person she is shines through. And, by some miracle of grace, she has music — the words of old gospel songs come to her, multiple times each day — complete, whole, beautiful. On our way back to the Alzheimer’s unit after lunch, we sang this old chestnut together in the car. Anyone old enough to remember it?
One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin—
Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me;
dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming—O glorious day!*
These are the gifts of today. And they are enough.)
*originally published in 1911, words by L. Wilbur Chapman. I discovered that Casting Crowns took several of the verses of this lovely poem (adding a few lines) and set it to new music in 2009. You can click here to listen.)