Desolation and Restoration: A Psalm of Disorientation

Today, at CPE day in Decatur, I got to present a breakout session on Psalms of Disorientation, based on the work of Walter Brueggemann. We talked briefly about Orientation, Disorientation and New Orientation and reviewed his formula for writing your own Psalm of Disorientation, then we wrote for 20 minutes and came back together to discuss what the experience was like.

Most found it therapeutic, liberating and eye opening to name a few reactions to the exercise. I found it healing as my disorientation was very fresh indeed.

You see, I grew up in Brasil. Yes, it is actually spelled with an “s.”

Yesterday’s beating was excruciatingly hard for me, for reasons I knew (I grew up there, my home country’s national identity is rooted in soccer, they were playing in my actual home town, I haven’t been back to Brasil since 2003, and David Luiz is beautiful and it broke my heart to see him fall apart after the game).

But the other reason came to me on my way home from the gym where is gone to work of the “depression ice cream” my sister, brother-in-law and I had gone to indulge in.

I’d been so hoping Brasil would win, but only a little bit expecting it. By no means was I expecting or prepared for a total massacre… and this terrible loss paralleled several traumatic losses of patients during my residency year. Unexpected, but brutal beat downs on life – like the beating my team took on the pitch.

In a way it was kind of like a re-traumatization, but possibly worse. As I watched the first 4 goals happen within 6 minutes, I received calls, text messages and offers of support from co-workers and friends, and the continued support I’ve received, especially within my department has been great. It’s felt kind of awkward because this kind of grief is not normal after a loss of a game/title/national dream… but that kind of defeat isn’t normal either.

My supervisor had a great quote the other day, I wrote it down but don’t remember the context in which she said “everyone’s just trying to get to a better normal.” Such is the task that Brasil faces, as do we, the fans,

and Psalms of Disorientation are a helpful tool for us on that quest.

Here’s mine:

I wondered where you were, O God, as I watched the desolation. I fasted and prayed for the players and the their supporters, certainly on the verge of breaking under the immense burden they bore for so long.

Bitterly humiliated, they sprawled on the field, their tears soaked up by the home soil that bore the brunt of their defeat.

In the wake of emotion after the shock, I asked you to come near. As tears over a home-soil loss became a gateway for tears over each life lost in my residency year, I asked for healing of the wounds my heart bears, obviously as yet unhealed – wounds that bleed out over and over again as each trauma call turns into a bereavement, and every time I have to watch a parent hug her child and whisper a final goodbye into his ear.

In all the unexpected tragedies, and in the unfairness of the world as it is, you are near.

You come when I call and give strength for the next day, the next duty shift, the next pastoral response to a hurting heart. When the tears of patient, parent and chaplain fall, you faithfully grant reminders of your presence, your love, you care; and these become our hope for the day when you’ll wipe away the tears from upon every face and swallow up death forever.


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