I thought I should tell you that I'm not a falling knife anymore. I wanted to thank you for all the prayers and poetry. I got wonderful prayers and poetry, though I wish you'd have posted more of the poems. Many of you are shy poets and poem sharers. But thank you so much.
I'm not quite myself yet, but I'm still here.
I've been traveling. I've been to West Monroe, Louisiana to visit my publishing home at Howard Books. Honestly, I can't say which place loves me more! They both insist they do, and it's really hard to decide. Both houses are homes, and they're good to me. A girl can't ask for more than that. Exciting things are happening at both places. I've got great people that I'm working with, and I'm excited about the books. Gotta love that.
Tomorrow I'm off to Chicago to the 14th Annual Ancient Christianity and African Americans Conference. It's going to be a family reunion y'all. And it's a multiculti event. You can learn about the ancient African roots of the Orthodox Christian church no matter what race you are. All are welcome. You can learn more at www.stmaryofegypt.net
I'm teaching a poetry workshop and I've been engaged in the Psalms. I love the Psalms. They are poetry. They are life. Whenever I lose my way, and Lord, have mercy I do that a lot, I find they are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 Ha! I always hear that one in Amy Grant's voice.
As you know, I've battled the ravages Bipolar Disorder brings these past few weeks. A writer, himself bipolar, sums it up this way:
We don't HAVE bipolar. We ARE bipolar, for both better and worse.
In one way, it's akin to being God's chosen people. As God's chosen - the (un)lucky one or two percent of the population - we are prime candidates for God's wrath, but even as God strikes the final blow - as the old Jewish saying goes - he provides the eventual healing. In a way that only God can understand, God has bestowed on us a great blessing. Living with this blessing is both a challenge and a terrible burden, but in the end we hope to emerge from this ordeal as better people, more compassionate toward our fellow beings and just a little bit closer to God.
It's like being in a wilderness. In a way, it's like being a wilderness within yourself. I think David was like that. His own private wilderness. I find myself in the Psalms. I find comfort. Strength. Like Job, I find sometimes He slays me, or it seems that way, but He really doesn't, no more than He slayed Job. But I've come to trust Him. I know my redeemer liveth.In my times of sorrow I burrow down deep in words like, "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying; my throat is dried; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God."
I love that. I love that you can take the fullness of your human experience to God. Thomas Merton says that the Psalms are bread in the wilderness, served by Christ Himself. If you've ever been in the wilderness, you know the pickins are lean. Your soul is always hungry in the wilderness. I don't care what your physical body looks like.
The Psalms are not for cheerful "Job's friends" that insist that you "snap out of it." Or for those that don't think you "have faith" if you're honest about your emotions. You are allowed the greatest portion of your bread of sorrow in this book. Catholics are encouraged to memorize the 13oth Psalm. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord."
You are also granted the fullest measure of joy. The psalms are where you may burst into wild canticles of high praise. "Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the Lord; praise him, O ye servants of the Lord. Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good." 135:1-3a
You can be exactly who you are in the Psalms. I can be exactly who I am in the Psalms: a moody, imperfect woman, who loves the Lord, the best way I know how. And sometimes, I don't.
"If thou, O Lord, keep the memory of offenses, Lord, who shall stand? But with thee there is forgiveness of sins, so that thou art served with reverential fear.
I hope in the Lord,
my soul hopes for the Lord,
more than the watchman for the dawn."
This very tired, very sad black woman is waiting, with great anticipation for that pink and smiling, newborn mercy promised with every sunrise. My thirsty soul will drink it greedily, every drop of mercy rising with the sun. Because I need it like that. I'm that woman. I'm that one who needs that kind of mercy.
And the poetry of the Psalms.
"Our soul waits for the Lord:
he is our helper and our shield;
Therefore in him our heart rejoices,
in his holy name we trust.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us
according as we hope in thee!