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Thursday
Oct122017

Physical Prayer: Weeping With Those Who Weep

Image, courtesy: saltwaterandhoney.org

 "Often, church is the one place we have been trained not to weep."  - Life Model Works

 

I've never had someone weep for me as this man did:  not merely weep for me; but as if he was me. 

The man who wept for me was my childhood friend's dad, whom I'd known for almost 30 years.  A soft-spoken psychiatrist with a dark bushy beard, and a storyteller.  But it wasn't his psychiatric training that kicked in that day; it was his sensitive heart.

His wife knew I wasn't doing well; offering to pray for me with her husband.  We found a small, quiet room at the conference hotel.  I felt painfully isolated and relationally severed.  I was a single pastor in a world of increasing losses. 

In that small room, the husband and wife pulled up chairs beside me.  As we moved out of conversation into prayer, she began praying and he sat to my right, quiet.

As my pain surfaced, the happily-bearded man I'd known for 30 years reached around my back with both arms; wrapped himself around my shoulders like a thick bearskin mantle,  and held me. He was slumped over me with grief; his thick dark beard brushed against the back of my neck as he wept.  Giant and gentle was his weeping presence. It would be more accurate to say he softly groaned rather than cried, as his anguished tears fell onto my shirt. His body was his prayer. 

He wept not simply for me, but as if he was me.  This was visceral prayer.  Physical prayer.  Incarnational prayer.

I felt him feeling what I was feeling.1  He heaved "sighs too great for words."  This sort of profound connection is called, "emotional attunement."  It's a way of expressing, "I get you.  I'm not merely with you.  I can feel what you're feeling."  It's what neurobiologist Dr. Dan Siegel calls feeling felt

 

"The point, of course, is that God attunes to us and feels and acts contingently.  We influence him through our emotional states...Our problem is that often we do not take ourselves seriously enough to believe we have that much influence on the One who created the universe." 2

 

1.  Anatomy of the Soul, by Dr. Curt Thompson; p. 98

2.  Anatomony of the Soul, by Dr. Curt Thompson, p. 101

 

 

 

 

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