The Basement of My Soul: A Prayer of Lament


As darkness rises, gathers tight and folds in upon itself, growing thick and spreading far, be the Light, the light in my soul for only light can chase back the clutches of darkness that threaten to overtake this land I love, the community I once knew . . . my neighborhood far and near.
I cannot shake this darkness. I did not ask for this.
I did not enslave or trample my way to the top and yet I bear the sin of those who did and today are rising even stronger. Because of the color of my skin I bear their sin.
While they gloat I grieve . . .
. . . my soul is shaken to the core and in that shaking I am undone.
I lie a tiny crumpled ball in the basement of my soul. There I weep, for we have sinned.
We have put on a pedestal those who lie and cheat and steal,
who gladly step on the soul of Your creation laughing the wound away.
We elevate those who break the law on their way to the top
but point our fingers at those who break lesser laws just to survive.
We send them to prison or return them to hell while we gorge ourselves with darkness convincing ourselves it is the light.
On the basement of my soul, I am spent.
Day after day I confess the sins of those who share my race and my skin but not my soul. Forgive, I whisper, and let this madness stop.
I open my eyes in this basement.
Screaming winds rip the roof off of this nation and I see  I am not alone.
Your Light has always been. In me and in others.
We draw closer together, growing stronger.
I remember that darkness makes the light grow stronger.
This cursed, wretched darkness gives courage and bravery
to voices that have never felt heard before.
Out of darkness, hope is born. Justice is birthed anew while we the *doulas believe and nurture, swaddle and grow it.
Light of all light, push back this darkness. Expose the hate for what it is.
Peel back the layers to show the fear and cleanse this land of self preservation.
From the basement of my soul I dance with joy.
I now see a nation of doulas that will never be stopped.
Driving taxis, teaching schools, serving meals, pounding nails, black, white and all glorious shades in between, rich, poor, young, old, in rallies, on knees,
in courtrooms, on buses, in airports, hospitals, and prisons.
In churches, mosques, and synagogues.
One doula gives courage to another and then another and another.
It spreads like a wildfire of light.
Yes! We are the doulas and we stand guard over this birth as if it were our own.
Light is born anew and given wings to deliver a death sentence to this darkness.

Let it be.

Oh God let it be!


*a doula is a woman trained to assist other women during childbirth.

“Loadshedding” and Lent

CandlelightLent is a bit foreign to me. It’s not something practiced in my home as a child. In fact, I was an adult before I really heard about it. The usual things I hear that people give up for Lent – coffee, chocolate, sweets, meat, Facebook, etc. don’t really jive for me. I’m glad if it works for them, but for me it has felt like a drudgery, reminiscent of periods of my life that brought more harm than good to my soul. I’ve tried, for a couple years now, to add something to my life during lent, instead of taking something away. This year caught me off guard and I realized that Lent had already started without my giving it a second thought. I don’t want to do something just to “do something”. It must have meaning or it won’t last more than a couple of days.

So the other day, during my morning coffee, I remembered a phase of our life in Bangladesh, when the power would go off every evening for about an hour.  At first it was source of great frustration, then we began to expect it and almost look forward to it. We would be forced to stop what we were doing, gather around in the dark and talk together as a family. No electronics. No work to distract. Just sit in the dark. Together. We would talk about what we missed from home and what we loved about our new host country. We would remember, laugh, share sadness and embrace hope.

I got to thinking about “load-shedding”, the term given to those periods of power outage. There was not enough electrical power for everyone, so section of the city would take turns doing without, so someone else could have power and the whole system would not become overtaxed. Why not practice load-shedding for lent? It might be a little quirky but I must say it is meaningful to me. Maybe it will last more than a couple of days. After all, if we give up anything at all, wouldn’t it be so much more meaningful if it actually helped someone else?

After dinner and dishes, we turn off the lights, set our electronic devices aside and light a few candles. The furnace is turned low so it won’t run and we sit in our quiet house and share stories. We remember the past. We go on rabbit trails in the present. We laugh. We tell more stories.

Then we shift our focus, because this whole “load-shedding” idea is not just about us having warm and happy memories. We talk about others who are carrying a load and need help to carry that load. Sitting in the quiet glow of a few candles, we pray for them. We carry their loads in our hearts. We love. We share. Stories from China, Korea, Bangladesh and Egypt surface. We remember that the world is big. We remember that God is good. We remember that human greed has corrupted the abundance that was meant to be. We remind ourselves that the story is not yet over, that there is still abundance to be had. And we set our hearts to live lives of generous hope.

-Marita Miller