By Derick Cranston
“Here deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents. All your waves and breakers sweep over me” reads the eighth line of Psalm 42, a striking psalm that beautifully expresses the feeling of helplessness the author experiences when faced with changes beyond his control.
The emotion it evokes is as familiar today as it was thousands of years ago. The footnote in my Bible says “… the waters arising in the north are overwhelming and far from God’s presence, like the waters of chaos.” How many times have we felt the waters of chaos sweep over our own lives and drive us to places we do not want to go? A place where we feel God has abandoned us, and we are left alone to face the disorder and confusion brought on by the storms of our lives?
A 13-year-old girl and an elderly man find themselves submerged in the very same waters of chaos that the psalmist sings about. She tells me about her family life and how troubled she is that they will soon be moving again. She has lived in several different places during her short lifetime, and is traded back and forth between her father and mother who have been divorced since she was 7. The older man I take Communion to once a week looks back upon his life and the church he worked so hard to build and be a part of. He is deeply worried that the church will close when our priest is reassigned to a different parish. A building and a community built up over a lifetime, swept away like a sandcastle upon the beaches of time where the waves of change converge.
“I say to God, ‘My rock, why do you forget me? Why must I go about mourning with the enemy oppressing me?’” Two people on opposite ends of life’s journey. One who is just beginning her journey, and the other near the end of his. Both feel that they have been forgotten. Both feel the oppression of their enemy, life’s many changes. It is here that the deepness of faith can have a soothing effect. If we submerge ourselves deep enough in our faith, we can find the peace and tranquility that can only be found in a God who loves us. It is through the waters of baptism that we are born to new life.
Just as the most beautiful sea life can be discovered in the silence and stillness of the deepest parts of the ocean, so too can the deepness and richness of our faith calm the troubled waters of our life. The waters of chaos blow over the surface of our lives and it is only in the deepness of faith that we will find the strength to carry through. Here deep calls upon deep. It is a deepness of love and compassion, where we find comfort in a God whose love for us is bottomless.
(Derick Cranston is youth minister for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He is going through diaconate formation and can be reached at email@example.com.)