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Psalm 22

Oh, vacant sky!  Oh, empty land!

Oh heart of mine, bereft of hope!

Why do I even bother crying?  What’s the use

Of even complaining?  When there is no one to hear

And no one to see my tears?

Why wake at daylight, why sleep at night,

When there is no one to tell about the passage of my time,

the hands of the clock spinning like a vortex

Of water running down a sink.


Yet I find myself writing this lament, as if there was a You to read it.

I howl, as if there was a You to hear it.

I cry, as if there was a You to see my tears.


And so You must be holy

Because my despair itself is sacred–

It is holy because it is all I have left–

Everything else is dust.

My despair is precious because it is all that remains of my life

And there is no one else but You to whom I can express it.


To You I cry

As Israel cried to you from Egypt and from Auschwitz

As black slaves cried to you from the cotton fields of Mississippi

As the mentally ill cry to you from under their rags on the bus stop benches of urban America

To you I cry

As villagers cry to you from Chechnya

As refugees huddle in shelters from the storms of Orissa


But who am I to cry?

What is my despair worth?  How do my miseries compare to the unspeakable sufferings of others?  By what right do I complain?


Yet I feel a rush of warmth as I lift my lament to You

I feel your presence all around me,

As if I was a baby once again, surrounded by the sweetness of my mother’s breasts

You were there then, to hear my infant cry

You are here now to hear my cry once more

Please, please stay, please comfort me —


Topics: Fiction and Poetry, Peace and Justice, and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 4: Act As We Believe and Point 6: Peace and Justice. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Texts: Psalms. Resource Types: Readings.

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