March 2017: Prayers for Difficult Times
This month's free reflections are taken from
Conversations with God about Thinks Often Left Unsaid
by Helen Reichert Lambin
My first encounter with Helen Lambin was at an ACTA Christmas party. I remember turning my head discreetly to see if she was wearing a bright blue cap. She wasn’t. Her bright blue hair framed a mischievous face sporting hip red-framed glasses. By the second time we met, I had edited her Constructing a New Normal, and she had become famous in the Chicago area as the “tattooed grandmother of Edgewater.” (Constructing a New Normal has a whole chapter on Helen's on-going adventure in ink.)
By that time, too, I had fallen in love with Helen and her candid, humorous approach to life, including her insights on the universal experience of grief. That summer I was grieving the loss of my mother, my brother-in-law and my youngest brother. As I worked on her book, I took solace in her experiences and wisdom and challenged myself to reclaim my joy. She was indeed a companion on the journey.
I feel the same way about Prayers for Difficult Times. Her honesty with God and herself is both disarming and empowering. While this book focuses on personal prayer, Helen gathers all of her readers—myself included--into a community of believers struggling to articulate the deepest longings of our hearts. If you don’t know Helen personally when you open this book, you will soon feel that you and she are the kind of friends who can share fears, failings, faith, dreams, and an ordinary grace-filled life.
Each of Helen’s original prayers is followed by a passage from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. And each chapter has room for you to write your own prayers and to note your favorite Scripture passages. Themes include: exhaustion, loneliness, frustration, impatience, regret, depression, loss, disappointment, and a good helping of hope.
Hope Is in the Air
Maybe something good will happen for me this day, this week, this month, this year. And if it isn’t happening yet, I feel it in the air, like a spring breeze. All Knowing Lord, this has been a hard time for me, a time of feeling down and defeated, but I am not yet finished, still less forgotten. But for this moment, God of All Possibilities, let me welcome and enjoy a gentle breeze of hope. Or, if you will, the wind of your Spirit.
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15:13)
Gracious God, how do I, how can I, help others now, in my own time of pain and desolation? It’s bad enough to feel such sadness. It’s worse if there is no point to it at all. Can I offer my pain to you, Lord of Light-from-Darkness, as a prayer itself? Let my grief become a prayer rising, like rough incense, for myself and for those I love, for those who love me, and for those who long to be loved.
God, come close. Come quickly! / Open your ears—it’s my voice you’re hearing! / Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising; / my raised hands are my evening prayers. (Psalm 141:1-2)
About the author
Helen Reichert Lambin has been writing practical books on scripture, theology, grief, and prayer for over thirty years for ACTA Publications. She is especially known for her best-selling book The Death of a Husband, which broke new ground for books on grief because of its honesty, transparency, and insight into the realities of widowhood. Her most recent books include Prayers for Sleepless Nights and Constructing a New Normal. She is presently working on a new book on the death of a sibling or close friend or relative.
Now in her eighties, Helen lives in Chicago, where she enjoys her children, granddaughter, and grandpets.