Given the need in general, but particularly in the light of reports of the deaths of prominent people in the media who have taken their own lives, this may be a prayer to offer…
From a Recovering Sucidalic
Christ of grace and compassion
The thoughts cannot be un-thought,
The plans cannot be unmade,
The past remains the past,
But hope can be restored and life can be lived.
Help me to discern my gifts and talents.
Show me how others need me to help them,
Even when the only thing I can offer at times is the opportunity for them to use their gifts and talents to help me.
As someone who has stood at that brink,
I know that there is no judgement or pity, only compassion.
Having looked into the peace that I thought promised by the void,
Be with all who struggle with the pain that they feel in living.
Be with all whose stress and anxiety has become unbearable
Be with all whose reserves of hope are running on empty.
Be with all whose sense of self has withered to a longing for others to be set free from the burden of their presence.
Be with all who have lost all sense of meaning and purpose.
May they know you
May they know love.
May they share your vision of their worth
May they know their purpose and meaning as hope.
Be with those who are suffering.
Enfold them in your love.
Hold them in your grace.
Continue to whisper to them hope and comfort,
And the offer of strength for living.
This I humbly pray. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)
A related hymn may be O Love that wilt not let me go, written by George Matheson who contemplated suicide after he’d shared with his fiancée the shattering news he’d just received from his doctor that he was losing his sight and would become blind. His fiancée couldn’t take this future life and broke off the engagement. Shattered, he stood on a bridge, peering down into waters as grey as his mood but as he stood on a rail to join those waters, it seemed as some strong unseen hand was pulling him back. And that’s how we got his hymn, “O love that wilt not let me go.” Read the hymn through again with this in mind, and feel the power of his inspired words.
And this plea by John Pavlovitz to young people contemplating suicide is excellent. It’s written in a US school context but could easily be adapted for a different context for teens.
If you stick around (a letter to suicidal teens)
Dear Hurting Teenager,
I know you want to leave.
I know the horrible, endless walks through the hallways that you endure every morning, near vomiting.
I know the afternoon bus rides to Hell where you sit frozen with fear, praying to just become invisible.
I know the locker room beat-downs and the lunch room stares and the wounding words behind your back and the hateful taunts in your face.
I know the incessant online trolls who hound you day and night; who hurl verbal violence from behind the anonymity and security of phone screens and fake handles.
I know how it takes every bit of strength you have just to paint on a smile and pretend you’re OK and to hide how much it hurts and to act “normal”.
I know that all of this has left you exhausted; that you’ve numbed yourself and hurt yourself and starved yourself, in the hope that their voices will become silent and their fists will be lifted and you can finally breathe again.
I know that right now you’d rather leave than live.
And even though I’m not standing in your shoes and even though I don’t know you and even though I have no right at all—I’m asking you to stick around.
I’m asking you to stay; to endure your incredibly painful, totally senseless now because I can see your glorious, blindingly beautiful then, if you do.
You see my friend, if you stick around your giants will shrink. All those monumental terrorists whose daily words fall heavy upon you like boulders, will begin to get smaller and smaller and smaller as you walk deeper into your life. Their names will fade from your memory, their power will be drained to nothing, and those whose opinions and accusations now loom so very large and important to you will be but specks that you brush from your shirtsleeve on the way to greatness.
If you stick around, you will see just how big the world is, and just how small the minds of those who once tried to ruin you were. You will understand how much hatred they had for themselves, and see the weakness that tried so hard to look like strength; the insecurity that masked itself as arrogance and as unbelievable as it is now, you will actually pity them, realizing how very wounded they were.
If you stick around, you will travel to amazing places that will take your breath away and see sunsets that have yet to be painted in the evening sky.
If you stick around, you’ll eat that cheeseburger; the one that will cause you to make an actual audible noise in public (and you won’t regret it).
If you stick around, you will hear that song that will change your life and you’ll dance to it like no one’s watching (and then not care that they are).
If you stick around, you will hold babies and see movies and laugh loudly and you’ll fall in love and have your heart broken—and you’ll fall in love again.
If you stick around, you will study and learn and grow, and find your calling and find your place and you’ll lay in the grass, feeling gratitude for the sun upon your face and the breeze in your hair.
If you stick around, you will reach a spot that the sadness won’t let you see right now—you’ll reach tomorrow. And that place is filled with possibility. It is a day you’ve never been to. It is not this terrible day. There, you will not feel exactly what you are feeling right now. You may be stronger or see things differently or find a clearing and life may look a way it hasn’t in a long time: it may look worth staying for.
And yeah, there will be other stuff too; disappointments and heartache and regrets and mistakes. You will screw things up and be let down, you’ll face terrible pain, and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever make it through.
But then you’ll remember how you got through the hallways and the bus rides and the locker room and the lunch room, and you might remember this letter and you’ll remember how freakin’ strong you were—and you’ll realize you’re gonna be OK.
So I guess this is just a reminder, from someone who sees what you may not see from here; the future, one that will be a lot better with you in it.
This is a plea, a promise, a dare, and an invitation.
You are loved.
Things will get better.
Cry and get angry and ask for help and punch a wall and scream into your pillow and take a deep breath and call someone who loves you.
But whatever you do…
Please, stick around.
(Note: If you’re struggling with depression, desire to self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, talk to someone)
It can be a hard, harsh and hostile world.
This past week has been hard to be a human being.
Yes, these are hard times but we must protect our hearts from hardening. Now, more than ever, the world needs gentle and tender hearts.
David Whyte wrote, “Poetry is language against which there is no defense.”
This poem by Mary Oliver broke my heart open leaving me in tears but they are tears of hope. The poem is called “In Praise of Craziness of a Certain Kind.” She is writing about her grandmother who has Alzheimers. She watches her grandmother tenderly and gently care for some ants realizing everything is lost for her grandmother except what is most important.
“On cold evenings my grandmother,
with ownership of half her mind – the other half having flown back to Bohemia.
Spread newspapers over the porch floor so, she said, the garden ants could crawl beneath,
as under a blanket, and keep warm and what shall I wish for,
for myself, but, being so struck by the lightning of years,
to be like her with what is left, to be that loving.”
Today’s To-Be List: Breathe. Be present to your own tenderness.
Carry this thought with you: In a world that is like a clenched fist, I choose to live with an open hand and open heart.
(Source: Rev Steve Koski, Bend Presbyterian Church)