Reclaiming Lament

Developing a practice of praying the psalms – the 150 prayer-poems from the Hebrew Scriptures – in the Divine Office has been a gift of Dominican life.  The psalms reflect the broad range of human emotions:  jubilation, anger, gratitude, loneliness, awe, and more.  There is no tidying up raw emotion – the psalms give prayerful voice to all of these feelings authentically and fully.         

Recently, I have been appreciative of the psalms of lament which have been used for millennia in praying through grief and loss.  Moreover, as I begin to study Dominican life in earnest here at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, I’ve been reminded that St. Dominic prayed and preached with tears. 

I was received as a novice and sent to begin my canonical year with an outpouring of loving support and a solid week of joyful celebrations, which filled my heart with gratitude.  Yet, the events of the past week have brought me back to our rich Judeo-Christian tradition of lamentation.  Charlottesville, Virginia was my home and place of ministry for ten years. I hold both the excitement of this new step on the discernment journey and lamentation at the violent display of white supremacy in a city I deeply love.  The psalms guide us in bringing all our emotions – even or especially when they are contradictory and complex – before our loving and merciful God. 

Where are you called to pray with tears?  How do you practice lament personally and collectively?

Sr. Rhonda Miska
St. Louis, MO

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