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Speaking to the Soul: From the Belly

Speaking to the Soul: From the Belly

Easter Week, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

 

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 93, 98 (morning) // 66 (evening)

Jonah 2:1-9

Acts 2:14, 23-32

John 14:1-14

A friend of mine offered a prayer on Easter morning that came from great depths, just like Jonah’s prayer in today’s first reading. The passage tells us that Jonah “prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.” For Jonah, “the belly of the fish” means more than just the whale that swallowed him. From within the fish’s belly, Jonah also prayed “out of my distress,” “out of the belly of Sheol,” out of “the deep . . . the heart of the seas . . . the flood.” Covered in waters, wrapped in weeds, behind bars, deep in “the Pit,” Jonah struggles to pray.

My friend’s prayer came from a similar place: grief over the deaths of his parents; rejection by friends, family, and even his state government for an aspect of his identity; apathy after fighting a social justice battle; depression that drowns the zeal and joy he once felt. Can a resurrection faith breathe life and hope into such places?

A resurrection faith is not a simple fix. But simply offering a prayer straight from the belly of whatever fish we’re in is itself an enormous act of faith. Jonah proclaims, “As my life was ebbing away . . . my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” Jonah believed that the prayer he offered from the fish’s belly could find its way to the temple of the Lord.

This Easter, we can try to pray from the belly. We can dredge up prayers from whatever distress, grief, apathy, and pain we find ourselves in. We can call out to God from the watery depths, from the weeds, from the bowels of a whale. The risen Christ may seem very far from the Pit, but he’s not. He’s right there with us.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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