Go to the Wall – David Hampton
After trying to articulate to some friends why I had made myself scarce during a particularly challenging season of life, I gave up my futile attempt at spinning excuses and just led with the truth. The truth was, I had hit a wall. There was no crash. Not even a thud. My emotional collision with life simply took on the form of a very pronounced but progressively dull ache exacerbated by each new calamity perpetuating it.
The culmination of several professional and personal challenges lined up like moons and stars creating a tidal wave of emotional fallout for me that, frankly, I didn’t see coming. Most of these situations found me in my “do” mode, handling all the necessary details required of me, but allowing myself to feel very little of the emotional fallout lying just beneath my calm, collected exterior. Being a virtual single parent, the caregiver of a progressively-ill spouse, a person living daily in recovery, and the only remaining staff member left in my department after a series of layoffs at my church, I found myself carrying a great deal of responsibility while feeling abandoned and alone.
Enter The Wall and the silent crash.
When I first assessed my relationship with The Wall and my clash with it, I realized that The Wall is the place where the spiritual realm and the physical world come together. And not always gracefully!
In Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Secret Life of Bees, May (a pivotal character) was a broken, mentally-challenged, and traumatized woman prone to deep emotional upheaval. When May would display a dark, dramatic episode, her sisters would say, “Go to the wall, May. Go to the wall!”
May slowly made her way out to the garden wall with her pad and pencil. She scribbled down the things she could not say aloud on tiny bits of paper, folded them tightly and placed them in the cracks of the mortar. For May, this was where the pain of the physical world and the hope of the spiritual coexisted. It was the tension of the wall that contained the beauty of her soul, her secrets, and her prayers.
As I began to process my own trip to The Wall, I realized that I too am spiritually scribbling down the things I want to leave there. Little bits of fear, resentment, and anger tightly folded in confessions. Pieces of my heart that need healing. The concerns for those I love that weigh on me. Prayers asking God to give me my life back and at the same time fearing what it would look like if he did.
Engaging the Wall is a tangible act of prayer. Faith is seeing us place our scribbled fragments in the mortar. Salvation is when we can walk away from them, trusting that God holds those torn messages we leave in the cracks.
Reflection: When was your last trip to The Wall? Does this metaphor shape any new ideas about prayer and how we approach God from The Wall?
Dave Hampton is the author of Our Authentic Selves: Reflections on What We Believe & What We Wish We Believed. For most of his life, David Hampton could tell you what he believed about anything, anytime, at the drop of a hat. He prided himself in how well he could parrot what he’d been taught about the Christian doctrine. At some point, he decided to trust the experts with matters regarding his spiritual formation and he learned to spout their words as his own. In so doing, he flipped off the switch in his heart.
Read David’s devotions.