Dude of sorrows – yuskavage 2015
It is now six in the morning. I have the urge to write as for me it is very therapeutic and doing it at this hour allows me to also be a lawyer, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend without being too neglectful of any other part of my life.
I am afraid that today I find myself in one of those down moods where it just seems the whole world has it in for me. As usual, I suspect this is more me than anything else and that if I closely examine my own actions, or lack of action, I will discover the causes of my unhappiness. On down days I cling mightily to my daily regimen of prayer and exercise with lots of coffee. I also do these activities early in the morning so as not to impose on “family” time. Each morning I read the Daily Office of The Book of Common Prayer and for each day of a thirty day cycle the prayer book psalter prescribes a psalm or set of psalms that are to be read for both Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Today is August 29th and the prayer book psalter prescribes the reading of psalms 139 and 140. “These psalms are described in one annotated Bible as Prayer for Deliverance from Personal Enemies.” 139 is described further as “a lament”. In one source a lament is defined as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow” when used as a noun or “to mourn” when the word is used as a verb. Sometimes the coincidence of the nature of the psalm and my personal emotional state is rather eerie. Plainly God leads us to the water, but we, of course, must drink of it.
Great comfort has come in the words of these works of Hebrew poetry. Verse 11 of psalm 139 particularly stands out:
Darkness is not dark to you;
The night is as bright as the day
darkness and light to you are both alike.
While the psalmist turns the lament into a hatred of those who hate God and continues that refrain in psalm 140, I cannot apply those laments to my own situation. My enemies are not those friends who seem to have been angered with me, or the spouse who has misunderstood me, or the boss who has rebuked me. They are not the enemies of God. Rather, I am. My poor perception, my lack of attentiveness, or diligence, and my lack of caring for my friends, my family or even for my job are really God’s enemy. Fortunately, I do have a “way to go”. In the words of Dame Julian of Norwich in her meditations “it will all be all right”. Dame Julian was referring to the healing and redemptive power of Christ and how it renders all our shortcomings to no longer be shortcomings in the eyes of the Lord. In John’s Gospel (16:12-13), Jesus says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In my case I see this as a command to lay aside my selfishness and to seek to do those things which help give happiness to my family, friends and neighbors. By doing that I will lift the veil of depression and disperse that black dog who far too often and for far too long attaches himself to my breeches and drags me down into the pit.
So having made a form of confession I feel empowered to prescribe a penance which shall be to “lay down my life for my friends even if in a metaphorical sense and to find ways to lay aside selfishness and tend to the needs of others in ways that benefit them In laying down my life, I shall find life, and find it abundantly.
A very dear friend posted a piece of art on her blog some months ago which I am posting along with this piece. “Dude of Sorrows” captures me this morning so precisely I cannot help but use it. The work is by Lisa Yuskavage and was created in 2015.