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Sighs too Deep for Words

“Grace Notes” columnist finds spiritual help on the Internet

Christians are encouraged to dedicate a portion of each day to reading the Bible and meditating on its message. Disappointingly, I’ve never been very disciplined about doing that. Late last year, I discovered a Web site that helps people be intentional about devoting time each day to prayer and contemplation. Produced by the Irish Jesuits, in Dublin, www.sacred space.ie invites visitors to create a sacred space in the day. Guidance and Scripture, chosen specifically for each day of the year, are provided to help make that possible.
I have been routinely visiting this Web site since learning about it. Being drawn to all things Celtic, I appreciate the poetic language of the Web site, which emphasizes the life-giving presence of God in and around me, and prompts me to be aware of “the Spirit gently nudging me towards all that is good.” I’m encouraged to reflect on how I find myself, emotionally, physically, and with God, each day. A daily Bible passage is followed by text that encourages me to reflect on what God is saying to me through the passage and what my reaction is. After I visit the site, I am always more aware of God’s activity in my life throughout the day.
Recently the Scripture text on the Sacred Space Web site was Romans 8:26, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Some texts speak to me louder than others, and I resonated with these words.
Not long ago I heard the executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of Torture speak at a Sunday morning Adult Forum at my congregation. I learned that 30,000 of the 500,000 victims of torture who live in the United States reside in Minnesota. I heard about the trauma, both physical and mental, experienced by the victims. I also learned about the mission of the Center, to work at healing the victims, help them return to productive lives and advocate for public policy that will put an end to torture worldwide, including the elimination of torture sanctioned by the U.S. The Center definitely has its work cut out for it.
Shortly after arriving at work one day not long ago, I learned of the suicide of the daughter of a friend. What other immediate response is there but prayer, for such heavy sorrow?
Daily, a mixture of global and personal prayer concerns rise to the surface of our lives. Sometimes we easily form the words of the prayers we offer. At other times, we rely on the Spirit to breathe the prayer for us. As Victor Hugo said, “Sometimes, no matter what the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.”