The following is another of the prayer/poems in my book Prayers of an Omega: Facing the Transitions of Aging . These writings reflect my own thinking but also that of people around me. I begin with a verse from Psalm 84 which I made my motto after my own husband died in 1962. Baca means place of bitterness.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs” (Psalm 84:5).
I will praise you, O Lord, for you have kept me in your way these many years and didn’t let me fall by the wayside, even when I despaired of finding the right path.
I called to you for help during the years after my husband’s death. You brought me out of the bitter darkness of sorrow.
You said it was all right to cry.
You said it was all right to be angry at those who had shoved me outside their circles.
You said it was all right to feel the pain I was enduring at the time.
Praise God, all you who mourn, for you will be comforted.
Praise our Lord’s name, for his absence is not forever. Weeping may endure for a season, but joy comes with the dawn.
When my husband died, though I was sad, I felt secure. I said to myself, “God is with the widows. I will be taken care of. We’ll make it -- God and I. With God’s strong arm underneath me, I will be able to weather the worst that can confront me.” The Bible assured me of your promise.
But when you hid your face and everything went wrong, the latter darkness was deeper than the first. It was if all my moorings had broken loose at once, casting me adrift. My former friends left me. The congregation seemed indifferent to another widow added to the growing list, another unmarried older woman to visit. Now I didn’t know where to turn.
I called to you, Lord, again and again. I cried for mercy, for someone to lift the heavy burden that was bending me so low, that I couldn’t drop it even during the night.
What glory was it to you if I had no joy, no strength to carry on? Does defeat praise you? Does joylessness and bitterness bless your name?
I cried for help. Don’t leave me. Show me where you are. Give me some small evidence that you are with me in this mess.
You turned my sadness into gladness. I waited and found joy for the journey. You showed me that if you loved me as I was, husbandless, I could love myself. You gave me back myself. I could stand erect spiritually. I had worth in your sight. I had found the place of springs.
May my heart continue to sing your praise. I will bless your name forever, for you are my God. Amen.