Thursday, January 24, 2013

a lament for the courts of the Jr. High

Last night, Jr. High youth talked about when and why and how they get angry, and then wrote their own psalms of lament: "GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW, YOUNG MAN," they yelled at God. "Maketh mine sister be-ith way less annoying," one pleaded, convinced that she might only talk to God in Shakespearean English. And then, because lament psalms always ends with gratitude for deliverance even when it has not yet come to pass, "Thanks, brah. I owe ya."

They're decent psalmists, these middle schoolers. They ooze emotion, feast on drama. The depth and breadth of the human condition may very well be apparent in a single sixth grade classroom. "I am a worm," the psalmist sighs, and my twelve year olds' eyes got wide: "Does it really say that?!" "All who see me mock me," the psalmist cries. "They hurl insults, they shake their heads."

I ask: "Have you ever felt that way?"

"YES," they shout or sigh or offer a simple, slight nod of the head.

They are strange and beloved beings, each of them, defying mundane odds stacked high against every one of our adolescent selves, so often bathed in inexplicable shame, navigating social strata with nothing but instinct to guide them, facing humiliation and waking up the next day and doing it all over again.

AND SO: A psalm of Pastor Dana, a lament for the courts of the Jr. High*


Our little sisters are annoying the heck out of us.
Day after day, our siblings torment us.
Our friends turn against us, mocking us behind our backs.
It rains on our soccer games.
Our parents are sick.
Grandparents die.
People fight, our bodies break, our voices crack and our clothes are constantly outgrown.
School stinks.
Yet morning after morning, we return to the halls of our torture.
The wicked oppress us. Our ropes are surely at their ends.

But you, O God, have saved many before us.
Even us, you have saved.
Your kindness has rained down to silence our sisters, 
to return us to our friends, 
to make the sun shine on the soccer field,
to comfort us,
to save us from adolescence.

And so, God,
Make these months pass quickly. 
Save us from the tyranny of middle school.
Hear us, and deliver us.
You always do.

You are God, mightier than any lunchroom stares,
stronger than even our sisters' whining.
You heal and save and make time move.
Praise to you, God of our Deliverance.
You bring us out of the wilderness,
into the halls of high school;
 you save not only our souls,
but even those of our parents,
our siblings,
our teachers,
our pastors.
Thanks, brah. We owe ya.

*and also, for us all

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