Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For This Day, Another Day in the Journey

I've been enjoying fall.
Words that don't need to be said after recipes for pumpkin muffins and apple pies, pictures of trails and leaves, pumpkins and mums,
lattes and ciders.

All five senses of mine have been more heightened to the pleasures of fall... partly because the pain in my body has been lessened.
And partly because if this year has taught me anything, it's been to reach with all your being to cradle the little pleasures of life that each day offers, as they might otherwise, in especially difficult seasons,
be passed over unnoticed leaving you with... just pain.

My pain has been physical in this season, but yours may be pain of soul, pain of heart, and you'd know how much space in a day
pain can easily fill.
How much care it takes to guard some of those spaces for good.

But really, I have good news to share. I've been feeling incredibly better for a significant number of weeks now.
Many doctors believe that this now is the time frame in which my body should start slowly coming back to normal.
Will it, and soon?
I'm not sure. I have reason to hope, but I still have discouraging, set-back type days.
And while today was kinda one of those days, it also was an exciting day,
as I started a new "project," for lack of a better word, that I'm looking forward to sharing soon.
My progress on my health lately has been just that good!

I'm thankful, and I'm impatient.
I'm given an inch, and I'm taking a mile.
I'm hopeful and I'm unsure.
And maybe that's why today, I pulled out this prayer again.

A student and friend of mine and Neal's, Kyle Tennant, wrote this prayer for us (um, wow) in light of my journey- or I should say our journey since Neal has been with me every step of the way- this past year and counting.

I asked Kyle if I could post the prayer here.
Every time I read it, I spend a little more time really reading it.
I find it heavy on theology (and Old Testament symbolism), and equally heavy on emotion.
Now that, I love.
For that, you might just stay at your computer for a few extra moments, since those kind of integrations just don't happen often enough.

Thank you, Kyle! Your friendship is dear to us.

*Just in case Biblical terms aren't familiar to you, Haran is Abraham's home land in the Bible. God calls him to leave there, and go to an unknown land called Canaan.
Similarly, Egypt was where the nation of Israel was living in slavery, until God led them out and gave them a land He promised them, called fittingly, "The Promised Land."
The prayer uses some imagery of these journeys.

Oh God,

You are the God of our comings and goings, the God who leads us from our many Harans unto our many Canaans.
You see us as we leave those places of comfort and safety, and you see us as we arrive into the places of wild and unknown expectation.
You call us out of the lands of familiarity, and into the lands of the unknown.

And we go, because we believe You.

You, O God of our fathers, are also the God of our journeys.
You are aware of the arduous steps we take from our Egypts unto our Promised Lands, and you are aware of each of our painful, wearied steps across an unknown, unforgiving, unending wilderness.
You know our hungers and our thirsts—sometimes sating them, and sometimes waiting longer than we’d like
—and you know our need.

And they—my dear friends—are tired from such a journey.

Yet, ahead, there is a new unknown, a possible oasis in the path, and perhaps what looks like an oasis could lead into the Promised Land, into our Canaan.
Hope flutters again in our chests, at once our worst enemies (having so often betrayed us before) and best friend (having so often imparted us strength before).
We see the oasis, and we wonder.

And we pray: do not let their eyes be fastened on the oasis, but on you, their Living Water.
Lead them not into the temptation of the temporary, but into the effervescence of eternity.
Help them to submit to whatever lies over the next hill, be it more desert or our long-awaited repose.

In short, be Your good and maybe even healing self again.

Be their Christmas, that new life may come.
Be their Easter, and resurrect their exhausted Spirits.
Be their Pentecost, and impart to them new strength for what lies ahead.
Be their Savior, and impart to them more of Yourself, that their union with You may be sweet even as the journey is often bitter.

Restore them, O God, we pray.

In the name of our Living Redeemer,
Who journeyed from your side—His Haran,
To our side—His Canaan,
That He, and We, Could Be With Him and You in Paradise.


Stephanie said...

love this!

Stephanie Roth said...

beautiful...reminds me of brueggemann and dr. schmutzer. ashley, i've been reading your blog for several months (linked through kirras), and i just recently met your brother tyler at a wedding. thank you so much for allowing us to drink from wells where you draw strength and to see beauty in oft forgotten moments of pain.
would you mind if i gave a copy of this poem to a couple very dear to me (giving full credit to kyle)? they too are on a sojourn full of hope and pain, and i think it would really minister to them. my email is lizzyroth@gmail.com. thanks!

dave said...

Wow! That prayer is amazing... with your permission I would like to share it with some friends. You don't know me... I found your blog through Kirra (whom I also don't know, but is friends with some of my friends, and stumbled upon her blog, which lead me to your blog.) I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blog, and seeing more specifically, your love for Jesus shine in the midst of trial.
Emily (the profile name is my husband's... sorry)

Ashley Anderson said...

Hi Emily! I would love for you to be able to pass the prayer on!! If you want, I can email it to you, or you could probably copy-paste it from here too. Thanks so much for your comment!