This is the poem of a pastor, watching his congregation going through all kinds of pain.
I am aware every Sunday morning, as I look out on my Fitzroy family, that almost everyone is hurting in some way. Most of us have family members we are walking alongside through very difficult situations. Most of us are struggling ourselves, with many issues of life.
There can be many unanswered questions in these pastoral scenarios and we live with our faith and the awkward dances of hurt and pain and grief.
The third verse is inspired by Philip Yancey. In a seminar at Greenbelt one year he was speaking about spiritual growth. He took those familiar verses in Isaiah 40: 30-31 -
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
... and gave them another slant. He suggested that when we are young in faith we start out with almost naive enthusiasm. We fly. Everything is possible. We can change the world. We can do it now. Then however we are hit by life's realities - broken hearts, death of loved ones. We land. We are still running. By the time we fully mature in our faith and how it works in a broken world we are down to a walk. In the physical life we walk, then run etc but in the spiritual life it is the other way around.
So if you are trudging and as a result feel you are showing spiritual immaturity. Maybe not. Perhaps it is a mark of your growing up in faith, learning to somehow trust, through the awkward dance of mystery.
It interested me that when I google imaged "walk and not faint" all I got were pictures of eagles. Maybe we are not up for the maturity that Eugene Peterson called 'a long obedience in the same direction'.
When a loved one’s tossed in turbulence
You watch them smashed whichever way
And God never seems to bring the calm
No matter how hard you pray
May unseen threads of mercy
Weave in, the unravelling doubt
May God grab you by the finger
Before life’s hurting drags you out
Knowledge loves the questions
Cos it has a seamless answer
But mystery shimmies all around
She’s an awkward little dancer
And when she dances out of sight
Leaving the soul that lonely ache
May God send a holy comforter
Before you crack up in the heart break
Lord, we flew on wings like eagles
Then landed with reality’s thud
We ran but soon were walking
Now crawl through this tear soaked mud
We mature in a world that’s broken
Confessing what our part is
We sing these songs to temper grief
And hope in their catharsis.