In last Sunday's Notes from the Field, I shared a few radical truths that I received at the center of the labyrinth and promised to tell you what happened on Saturday, July 25 that explains the direct parallel between what patriarchy has done to women and what patriarchy has done to prayer.
However, I’m going to table that rather intense exploration for now because I’m in the midst of preparing for a relaunch of Writing Down Your Soul at the end of this year.
Instead of writing that promised newsletter, I spent the day writing a new introduction to the book.
I don’t know why but this intro didn’t gel until late last night. I know and trust my middle-of-the-night guidance, but sheesh, I do wish it would come a bit earlier sometimes! But it comes when it comes, and all I can do is roll over and write in the dark.
Last night the guidance was both practical and poetic.
- On the practical side, I was reminded to tell the publisher to add a page listing all my other books.
- On the poetic side, I heard: “Deep soul writing is an ever-deepening intimate relationship with the one who listens but who is listening? And who is writing?”
Now there are two unanswerable questions. So I took them onto the labyrinth this morning and got my answer which will be in the new introduction.
The middle-of-the-night voice has been very busy in this pandemic. I find something on my bedside yellow legal pad almost every morning.
This is what I found on July 16. I’d been having trouble falling asleep. And that particular night, I felt that the air itself was full of tears. No wonder no one can really breathe. I received this prayer bit by bit, in the dark with my eyes closed. I simply wrote what I heard and then waited for the next line.
Sorrow is Speaking
©Janet Conner, July 16, 2020
The air is heavy with sorrow tonight
sorrow swims from doorway to doorway
circling the streets, looking for someone
Is she looking for me?
Is she looking for you?
The air is so heavy
I can hardly breathe
yet breathe I must
One more breath for one who suffers
One more breath for one who dies
One more breath for this weary body
because there is something she wants me to do
Something for me?
Something for you?
I don’t really know for whom I toil
but toil I must
Today a prayer
Tomorrow a love song
Always it seems there is something she wants me to do
But I am tired
tired of death
tired of sorrow
tired of mourning
tired of watching suffering grow—
and suffering is growing
She cradles the mothers
She caresses the hungry
She is trying to say something
Sorrow is speaking
Is she speaking to me?
Is she speaking to you?
“Suffering has a name”
Is it my name?
Is it yours?
“Who will wipe her tears?”
Will it be me?
Will it be you?
Once more tears flood the streets
A river of what we have done to one another
What have I done?
What have you done?
What have we become?
What will we become
now that sorrow is speaking our names?
After I typed up this prayer, I sent it to Perdita Finn and asked if she’d like to record a prayer vigil for July 31.
I’ve been offering these prayer vigils every Friday all summer and I think I’ll continue to do them in August and perhaps beyond. Sometimes, my only response to all the cruelty this pandemic is revealing is prayer.
When Perdita and I got together to record the Prayer Vigil, I read "Sorrow is Speaking" for the first time, and she responded with the most powerful decade of the rosary I've ever heard. Or ever felt was even possible. This is the "Hail Mary" as you have never heard it.
Here's the page on my site with all the prayer vigils. July has been particularly intense. It started with me reading my "Lament for America" in Prayer Vigil 5 and ended with "Sorrow is Speaking" and the decade for the dead in Prayer Vigil 9.
I hope these Prayer Vigils help you breathe.
to the healing power of prayer to help us breathe,