prayer in open d


    I spent the day on a men’s retreat with some guys from church. We were out at a lake house. The day was beautiful, the conversations were honest and open, and the day was full of meaning. I came home filled up and still ran out of gas before dark. The days feel too long and the nights too short. I sleep, but I don’t rest. I find, in days like these, that I turn to two things that offer me hope: cooking and music. I made dinner for Ginger. The meal was simple, yet it helped me to cook and then sit at our kitchen table with her.

    I sat down to write and could do little more than listen. I leaned into an old friend, Emmylou Harris, and her “Prayer in Open D.”

    There’s a valley of sorrow in my soul
    Where every night I hear the thunder roll
    Like the sound of a distant gun
    Over all the damage I have done
    And the shadows filling up this land
    Are the ones I built with my own hand
    There is no comfort from the cold
    Of this valley of sorrow in my soul

    There’s a river of darkness in my blood
    And through every vein I feel the flood
    I can find no bridge for me to cross
    No way to bring back what is lost
    Into the night it soon will sweep
    Down where all my grievances I keep
    But it won’t wash away the years
    Or one single hard and bitter tear

    And the rock of ages I have known
    Is a weariness down in the bone
    I use to ride it like a rolling stone
    Now just carry it alone

    There’s a highway risin’ from my dreams
    Deep in the heart I know it gleams
    For I have seen it stretching wide
    Clear across to the other side
    Beyond the river and the flood
    And the valley where for so long I’ve stood
    With the rock of ages in my bones
    Someday I know it will lead me home

    With the rock of ages in my bones, I’m going to lay down my head and my burden tonight.


    P. S. There’s a new recipe here.


    1. I don’t struggle with depression, and so, please know that I don’t attempt to offer any advice about what you are feeling. Yet I’m compelled to share an analogy that your recent posts (and our Iowa floods) have brought to mind.

      I’ve lived moments when circumstances have welled up, threatening to flood my sense of who I am and how I’m being called to connect with those who comprise my world. While it seems counterintuitive, I’ve found that succumbing to a flood of emotion doesn’t fully sink me — as long as I continue to seek the current as I’m going down. And when I feel it, I give in to it, allowing myself to be swept back into the fullness of life. I still fight the fear connected to the unavoidable, unknowing that’s inherent to a sinking flood. Yet I live for the power of the current that brings me back.

      I hope you don’t feel like you are going too deep or like you are headed down for too long. My prayer is that you’ll soon be swept into life’s powerful current, and lifted to a new place.

      Thanks for the privilege of riding in your wake.

    2. Hey Milton,

      You don’t know me, but I’m a regular reader of your blog. I wish I could tell you how many times your words have given me hope that there is something redeemable in me. My prayer for you is simple: may you find the peace and self-acceptance that you model so generously for others to find.

      You are not alone on the road. That valley of sorrow is deep and wide, I know. But please know that your words and your life matter, and I am praying for you. May we both be washed in forgiveness and love.

    3. Hi, Milton.
      I guess I needed this one, too, going in reverse from your more recent post.
      It’s been a long time since I walked through the dark woods of a severe postpartum depression, but some kinds of sadness bring it back, bring back that feeling of needing to lay things down. So thanks for this.

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