Psalm 139

You search me and know me,
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

There are many parts of my story that I race past,
holding my breath lest they raise their heads
and show me up for who I fear I am.
Small things that grow from my hidden corners,
swelling, filling, misshaping me.
Things I am told, looks that I catch in the eyes of another.
The leaping of my heart as heat rises and dizziness flows.
They grow and overwhelm, forcing me back into their dark places.
Deep into my shame I have sunk.

You search me and know me,
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 

In the night my spirit wakes and taunts me,
The voices that tell me I can do no good, that I have no value,
That remind me of my failings, of my weakness,
of my splinters and shards.
The faces that stare with eyes which condemn and dismiss me,
That look with disdain and judgement, that puncture my faith.
The sneers and comparisons, the taunts and the jokes.
Deep into my shame I have shrunk.

You search me and know me,
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

In the morning I face myself in the mirror and see what I have done.
My past actions overwhelm me and change what I see,
They tell me I am wicked, they tell me I am ugly,
They drown my goodness, they suffocate my beauty.
They fight to own and define me, and too often they win.
They become who I am and what I may be.
Deep into my shame I have grown.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Your eyes search me,
You know my heart.
See through my shame,
See deep into my hidden places,
See through my deepest fear and pain,
Show me what you see,
Show me the me you created,
Show me the goodness you know is there,
Show me the strength I cannot feel,
Show me the beauty I cannot see,
Show me the light in my darkness,
Show me the music in my soul.
Help me to release the things I have done which I have let define me,
Help me to release the things that others have done to me that crush my spirit,
Help me to know the difference I make for others,
Help me to trust the difference you make in me,
Help me to be the me you see,
Help me to be the me you love,
Help me to recognise myself in you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Mother and Father God,
Creator, Redeemer, Comforter,
Search me, know me, love me,
Help me to search myself,
Help me to know myself,
Help me to love myself.
Forgive me for the things I have done that shame me,
Forgive me for the things I regret not doing,
Forgive me for not trusting in your grace and love.
Help me to accept total forgiveness,
Help me to live from this day without guilt or shame,
Help me to trust in your grace and love,
Lead me forward in peace and new life.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Mark Berry 29/03/2019

Sections from Psalm 139 New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

 

Broken world Broken healer

In a broken world, built from shattered stones and ripped lands,
must the healer know the pain and feel the loneliness on which he must walk?
In a broken world, inhabited by torn people and splintered love,
must the healer know the anguish and feel the loss which she must embrace?
In the numb silence and the sleepless nights,
broken healer stand and hold my hand.
In the hollow grief and empty dreams,
broken healer stand and hold my hand.

In the sorrow bring new joy,
In the ending bring new hope.

Lent

“Look after yourself”, they say,

“have some you time!”

In the solitude the noise only amplifies,

The loneliness born in the night swells in the emptiness.

Scratching at the raw earth, fingertips crying for contact,

Wild sounds filling the vocal gap.

Deep into the desert.

Deep into the wild place.

Where I am supposed to find myself,

At least that’s what they say!

Maybe they’re right,

Maybe there will be a sound

Deep within,

A sound that makes some sense.

Behind my competing stories,

Beneath it all.

Maybe not,

Maybe this serves only to prove to me my need for another,

Even others.

Maybe that is what I need to learn?

Maybe that is what I need to find?

Maybe that is why I’m here?

Maybe soon I’ll know.

Ash Wednesday

Today I burn the things which pull me back into the old me.

The shame and guilt I feel for failures past,

Things I know I should have done better,

Things I know I should never have done.

Things I did in anger or selfishness,

Without due thought for others or rightful care.

Things I did in fear or panicked haste,

Without due thought to unforeseen consequences.

Things I did in response to my own nagging doubts and demons,

Without due thought for where they may take or leave me.

I burn the obsessions and preoccupations that refuse to let me grow into the me that you see,

The pattern behaviours and co-dependencies that keep me anchored,

The wounds and tears that I cannot allow to heal,

The scabs I delight in picking off before their time.

The habits and addictions that I hold to from fear and insecurity.

I burn the desires I know are harmful,

The ambitions that persuade me that it’s ok to stand on others,

That allow me to minimise the gifts of others for my gain.

That emerge from greed, pride and competitiveness.

I burn these things and I mark myself with ash,

As a welcome to true vulnerability and humility.

In the ashes there is a new life,

life dependent on love, on simple truth and righteousness.

I commit to this life,

Free from guilt and shame,

Free from anger and fear,

Free from greed and pride.

The sound of sheer silence

The sound of sheer silence,

Fights to be heard amongst the clatter and clamour,

Still the battering fears,

The questions that scream,

The anguish that points and pokes,

And tries to suffocate my space,

Doubts that roar in the tumultuous wind,

Accusations that pierce my awareness fired by the storm,

Insecurities crashing in my head in the fall of a great river,

In the noise I hear no voice but my own,

My weak voice, my raw voice, my tired voice.

My voice bringing me down, destroying my confidence, prodding my wounds.

Stand, still.

Stand, still.

Stand, still.

Do not hear the storm, the wind, the rain.

Hear instead the sound of sheer silence.

Hear the voice in peace,

Hear the voice of peace,

Hear the voice… peace.

1 Kings 19:11-13

Wrestling Angels

Through the night Jacob had to fight,

Eye to eye, arm to arm,

held, twisting, pulling, knees. elbows,

Muscles and joints tensed in the search for purchase,

Pressure building in desperation and frustration,

Why must we wrestle, how is that love?

But the fight will not end,

Where is mercy, where is peace?

No space, face to face,

Only hard eyes and harder fists,

Down on the solid earth,

Bruising,

Tearing,

Ripping,

Bleeding,

In the dust and the dirt, stinging raw flesh,

Grinding bones and bedrock,

Forcing breath, and sweat and pain.

Day breaking, body breaking,

By the crooked river,

Bones are bent out of shape,

Forever crooked.

Scars born in love and hope,

Wounds exchanged for a name,

a blessing ripped from deepest injury.

With the rising sun a gift of pain that remains.

A reminder of the most intimate battle.

Not won or lost, just fought.

Stand in the gap

Stand in the gap,

When they want to force you to take up an extreme, refuse.

When they want to you to be polarised, refuse.

When they want you to ignore the complexities and conundrums of life, refuse.

Instead stand in the gap where the real people stand.

Where the people who do not want to be pushed or defined by others insecurities and obsessions stand.

Stand where the subtle colours shift and shine, where the deep and generous patterns flow.

Stand with the thinkers and dreamers, the survivors and strugglers, the lovers and yearners, the busy and distracted, the confused and the searching, the poets and the prophets.

Plant your feet in the shifting sand and stand with the ordinary and extraordinary.

Stand while the edges shout their insults and slogans, their extremism and their intransigence.

Stand whilst they shout themselves to a deafened standstill in their fear and their anger.

Stand in the place of humility and love,

Stand in the place of unknown adventure,

Stand in the place of wonder and expectation,

Stand in the place of the God of desert and river, of exile and pilgrimage, of birth and rebirth, of love and sacrifice.

Stand as an invitation to others to stand there too.

Morning ice

Inhaling shallow chill,

Caught as my insides rebel,

And refuse to accept the air.

Rushing carefully, cautious speed,

Learning to move again,

On crystallised black top.

Limbs confused unable to adjust,

Brain disconnected in the cold.

Move quickly losing endings,

Sensations fade from sting,

Numb pain sucking in.

Dash, don’t dash.

Breathe, don’t breathe.

Cracking doors offering refuge,

Shiver building from below,

Endure the uncontrollable,

Waiting for it to fade,

With the hoped for relief,

Slow breeding warm,

Lungs welcoming,

Digits screaming,

Forehead drumming,

Blood daring to flow,

Pause.

I can’t write today…

I can’t write today,

I want to, I feel I should have something to say,

but everytime I try,

there too many shouts, too many voices that cry,

my head is saturated,

my brain and my spirit over stimulated,

depth is so hard to find,

when the day has filled and flooded my mind,

I’ve made mistakes,

pressed down the accelerator instead of the brakes,

I’ve spoken out of turn,

when my place was to hear and then to learn,

But the day has been rich,

Full of wisdom, ideas and thoughts which,

leave me struggling for something to say,

So, I’m sorry the truth is I can’t write today.

God who is misunderstood

God who is misunderstood,

May we find our understanding in you.

May others judge us for being too kind, and condemn us for giving too much.

Let people look at us and laugh at what fools we are for exposing our brokenness,

And dismiss us as idiots for caring, for risking everything to see another smile.

May they ridicule us for our tears and rubbish us for our bleeding hearts.

Lord, as they stare and point because we refuse to worship the god of self, and won’t bow down to appease the god of greed, may we look up and smile contented.

May love be our downfall in the eyes of those who look at us, and peace be our weakness.

Let those who attack us do it because we stand undefended, and because we welcome them for who they are.

May our homes be not our own and our lives a gift to others even when they show no respect or gratitude.

When we hand over the things we value and give away what we have worked for may we welcome the grabbing hands.

Lord, when you take what you have given us to offer someone else, help us trust in your wisdom for their sake.

May we find our understanding in you,

God who is misunderstood.