The Juxtaposition of Lament and Faith

Apr 6 / Susan Anquist
I boldly say, we are in the midst of the greatest world-wide disorientation in our lifetime. The challenge and one of the gifts of this time of disorientation might be the juxtaposition of lament and faith. While at Portland Seminary, I found myself confronted by the mysteries of faith. One of the greatest gifts of my time there was the invitation to hold things I once thought as incongruent with faith, with honesty and renewed hope.

How can we be honest with ourselves, express our emotions, doubts, fears and hold faith simultaneously? In which ways may our vulnerabilities, our laments become invitations or openings for reorientation, and intimacy with God? How do we hold faith and faith statements boldly, without belittling our own frailties and the vulnerability of others?

The gift of spiritual direction for such a time as this, is the invitation to hold the juxtaposition of lament and faith together. Perhaps, this is our most sacred call.

During this time of uncertainty and disorientation, I have noticed many of us are looking for, perhaps grasping for moorings. Walter Brueggemann is an important theologian in my spiritual mooring. He suggests in For Whom No Secrets are Hid: Introducing the Psalms, that “the underlying message of the Psalms is a message of orientation, disorientation and new orientation” (Xii). While in a course called, Biblical Foundations for Spiritual Direction at Portland Seminary, I spent some time engrossed in Psalm 89:38-52. Psalm 89, seems to be a lament of visceral disorientation. Perhaps it is why the Psalter has been considered the most beloved book of scripture.

Could the cries of our traumatized world be the seedbed for reorientation? Could holding disorientation actually be our truest expression of faith?

Yesterday, I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the importance of ritual or spiritual disciplines during times of disruption. When we are bombarded with news, advice and more things to process than we are capable of as human beings, I find rituals and spiritual disciplines comforting and essential. Simple gestures of ritual or spiritual discipline can be like a warm blanket, a reminder of what grounds us, a place of rest. I find lighting a candle each evening, holding space for breath prayers and silence are the most important groundings for me right now. The Ignatian practice of Examen, each night, is giving me a window into my own soul and an invitation to invite the Holy One into my desolations and consolations.

Each morning, I feel drawn to the earth. I welcome the tree out my bedroom window, a stalwart presence in the time of storm. I need to walk, every day. I need to hear the crunch of rocks under my feet. I need to let tears fall as they come, acknowledge the pain, the emotion.

I wonder what rituals or spiritual disciplines does your soul need right now? Are there new gifts being germinated in the juxtaposition of lament and faith? I wonder what new offerings we will have as spiritual companions in light of COVID-19?

“Oh God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Be Thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home” Amen. (Issac Watts).

“Sacred is the Call... Awesome indeed the entrustment. Tending the Holy, Tending the Holy.” (Sr Suzanne Toolan, RSM)

Susan Anquist

Susan Anquist lives in British Columbia with her husband Warren. She is the mother of two married children and their spouses. She is a grandmother to three lively, lovely granddaughters one, four, and six years old. For the past 20 years, Susan was a part of the ministry team for OASIS Ministries, a ministry focused on providing a space for ministry leaders to process transitions and deal with the stresses of ministry/personal life. She holds a Masters of Arts in Spiritual Formation and certification for spiritual direction from Portland Seminary. She practices spiritual direction both online and in her community. She loves walking. In 2018, she walked part of the Camino de Santiago. Her plan was to complete more of that journey in May 2020, but due to our current circumstance, she will walk another time. She loves reading, poetry, and finds much joy in writing. She has a spiritual formation blog on Instagram (#Susan.Anquist).