What do we do with our anger and rage in lament?

By Kathryn A. Rickert, Ph. D.

If the emotion in the pit of your stomach after watching another killing of an AfricanAmerican man, a suicide bombing, a car-crash, stabbing, or a sniper killing is anger and rage, then it is anger and rage. Effective laments do not somehow transpose what is horrific and jarring into something mild, polite, correct, and meaningless. Anger is anger. Rage is rage.

Why would we want and what do we need to lament? “Insider Grief”

By Kathryn A. Rickert, Ph. D.

They cried to you in their trouble, and you delivered them from their distress. Psalm 107:6

Painfully, with recent events in Orlando, the question of “what do we need to lament” is not much of a question. Even with so many changes for the better in today’s world, the awareness and presence of extreme violent suffering has grown rather than diminished. We know what to lament. But, the matter of why weighs heavy.

What do laments offer to communities and individuals?

Kathryn Rickert, Ph. D.

…to acknowledge, witness, honor, share in, and have compassion (suffer with) for the distress of others, before God

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. BCP, 836

Laments offer us something we very much need, yet at times take great pride in withholding from each other; acknowledgment of, witness to, honoring of, sharing in, and compassion (suffer with) for the distress of others, before God.

Why do we need laments?

By Kathryn A. Rickert, Ph. D.

We need laments now because they provide a solid foundation for bridging the disruptive gaps between divided American communities by shifting the focus away from “me and mine” and onto a “we and ours” that includes everyone before God.

What do Laments do?

By Kathryn A. Rickert, Ph. D.

in sickness and in health…

Lament puts reality on the map of faith. It does not allow us to edit from our worldview and concerns only those things that fit within our present status quo of wellbeing. It listens faithfully, notices, and pays attention to both the joys as well as the sorrows of life for everyone.

Lament is not…

By Kathryn A. Rickert, Ph. D.

Lament is not “safe”; that is, risk free or guaranteed to bring about the desired results. It can be dangerous. If we feel “safe” while lamenting, then we have missed a call to enter into a sacred place. Lament is willing to take the risks of failing and knows that “success” will likely mean disruptive change. Lament is doing something. It is an act of faith.

Public communal lament as it shows up in Scripture and deep Christian communities may not be what we expect. Take for example,

What is Lament? by Kathryn Rickert, Ph. D.

Lament is an essential form of prayer ​used by Christians, Jews, and other religious traditions as we dare to approach together the challenging and painful depths of human experience.

Lament is a prayer form used by Jesus.

“At about three Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me?’ “ Matthew 27:46

“Jesus began to cry.” John 11:35