Rock of My Disappointment

Choose a name for God, he said*,
borne of the struggle, the
wrestling. I have

contended, fought You until the
fingers of my soul bled,
scrabbling for

gold beginnings and fabled
endings. You have left
me wanting,

disappointed. A thin, flimsy word
for the crushing abyss of
silence. Unmoved,

this Rock of my salvation splinters
dreams like toy ships on a
stormy sea. Flint-faced

You refuse to be carved by
my desires. Only one of
us can change, and

neither wants to. The night drags
on though we both know
I have lost this

fight. I will hold fast for the
blessing. You will leave me
with a limp.

© Nichole Q. Perreault

*A reference to Anthony Bloom and his book, Beginning to Pray.

Apocalypse

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

The battle is lost
has been
for a long time now
Did we even understand
what we were fighting for?

Darkness pervades
like fine dust of
a coal powered train
There is nothing it hasn’t touched
curtains, hair, the tea, his lungs

A flake of ash on white linen
taunts her
but she knows better
One brush of her thumb would
beget a smear, a blotch, a stain

She shakes her head as
the teacup meets
her lemon-rind smile
We can’t hold back evil
She swallows, licks her soot-stained lips

Darkness reigns
in this brokedown palace
where graveside songs are sung from
failing flesh and
blighted bones

Nobody gets out alive
not the defiant
not the hopeful
Nobody
Death is king

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lay down, my friend, and rest
here beside me in the newborn grass
We’ll watch the clouds
move like a stormy sea
gray chasing white chasing gray

And every once in awhile
a shard of sapphire
If we’re lucky, like last night
the sky will spit in our faces
reminding us of sea spray

Stay with me
Pray if you like
or don’t
A quiet mind
grants sanctuary, too

The battle is lost
but the war isn’t over
and I could use a friend
to hold my hand
while we watch

The Fire burn, Wind blow, Wave wash
away the shadows
that gather at the edges
of our eyes, then
LIGHT

© Nichole Q. Perreault

Part 3: I Hate God | An Ugly Truth

Well it took awhile for me to get to Part 3 of this series. Will there be a Part 4? Man, I hope not. 

Wow. What a winter.
If nothing else, it’s been real.

If you’ve been reading my blog you know I’ve been angry with God. Driving-around-in-my-car-from-midnight-to-2:00am-screaming-until-I-lose-my-voice angry. Yup. It’s been real, alright.

Just Show Up
In April, I attended a women’s retreat with our church, which wasn’t easy to do. The theme of the retreat was Love: Intentional, which made me laugh (maybe scoff is a better word) when it came across my desk for promotion. Just a few weeks earlier, when my pastor tried to remind me that, despite appearances, God loves me, I looked him in the eye and said: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

So what would 42 hours of chatter about God’s love be like? Not much different than the “wah wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher, I figured.

Just show up, I kept telling myself. Just show up. Those were simple words God gave me decades ago, and they have served me well. Just show up. So I did.

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Afraid to Pray

I’m afraid to pray.

Not the talking-to-God-throughout-the-day kind of prayers. I’ve reached a point in my life where talking to Him is almost automatic – so much so that NOT talking to Him would require serious effort.

I’m talking about the petitioning prayers. The God-heal-my-friend prayers. The God-fix-this-relationship prayers. The God-show-us-what-to-do prayers.

For weeks, we prayed for my brother’s healing. For weeks, hundreds of people all around the world prayed for my brother’s healing. And there were miracles along the way, days when he defied the doctors’ predictions. Like when he started breathing on his own after a week on the respirator, or when he was readmitted to ICU for internal bleeding and the bleeding miraculously stopped, or when his kidneys began to work again after weeks on dialysis. And we praised God for the miracles and for answering the prayers of many.

The last week of Derek’s life, doctors planned to discharge him. Every day for three days, we waited. And every day for three days, they said, one more day. Until the last day, when they moved him, for the third and final time, back to ICU. He never came home.

Even though I know God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want…and even though I know people suffer and die every day…that we all die some day…that eventually God stops answering our prayers for healing and calls us all home…and even though I know God is unchanging and good and that His ways are higher than our ways…and even though I know that prayer is a mystery…that somehow God invites us to participate with Him in His divine plan but the outcome does not rely on us…even though I know all that, I’m still afraid to pray.

The pain and devastation, the feeling that God abandoned us – actually tricked us with answered prayer and then pulled the rug out from under our feet – snaps at the heels of my heart and mind like an angry dog. And I can’t run away.

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Did God Really Say?

The following was written about an experience I had a couple of weeks before my brother passed away. It is still relevant now. 

One misty morning, when even the air seems gray and heavy with tears, I visit my old church. I climb to the top of the hill, and there surrounded by 12 boulders, I sit before the tall wooden cross in the damp crab grass, hugging my knees to my chest.

Birds chirp in the stillness. I wear the fog like a blanket and let the drizzling rain soak my shirt, the peace of this place soak my soul. It’s like coming home.

For a while, I rest in the quiet, the solitude, the home-ness. But I grow restless.

In a hospital bed not far away, my brother, my baby brother, fights for his life, stricken with an illness no 32 year-old father should experience. Every day for weeks we’ve prayed, we’ve stood vigil by his bed, taking shifts, helping him eat, holding his hand, washing his face, hoping against hope for a miracle.

Where is God in this? Who is God in this? Do I even want to know? If I keep looking, will I recognize the One I find? Or will I find that He is what I’ve always feared – a liar, a fraud, a cold, heartless trickster who lures us in with promises of life and goodness and joy and peace, only to laugh as we choke on the toxic apple?

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Prayers Like Snowflakes

Do you ever wonder, as you slog through your list of prayers, does this matter? These words – in the form of petitions and praises and pleadings – do they matter?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Discouraged? I do.

So much heartache. So many needs. Needs that outnumber my prayers. Needs that outweigh my weightless, colorless, tuneless words.

Discouragement is stronger than gravity and can pull us down with a force that pins us to the lowest places, the cold, hard places so that we can’t even lift our heads to look up. And in comparison, our prayers seem to drift away like vapors in the wind.

One day, not too long ago, as I sat on my bed praying, I felt an emptiness and futility pressing in on me. I found myself asking,

How can these prayers I offer up today – please bring k peace, keep her safe and help her share your love with others today…completely heal and restore c… comfort my friend who misses her mother… save that marriage on the verge of divorce…bring that young man off the streets and into a rehab that will make a difference… – how can these prayers make a difference? How, God? It all seems so pointless. And I just feel like giving up.

And then I thought of snowflakes.

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