Still in the Storm

Still in the Storm Still in the Storm © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +4 (June 24), Year B: Mark 4.35-41

Yesterday I performed a wedding in the sweet chapel where Gary and I lead our Wellspring service. The bride and groom, who live out of state, had quickly arranged to have their wedding here in Florida when it became apparent that the bride’s father, who had become quite ill, would not be able to travel for the wedding. Though everyone had hoped he would be walking his daughter down the aisle, he died earlier this week. Two days before the wedding, the family held his funeral.

Peace a friend said to me as I prepared for the bittersweet wedding ceremony.

Peace I said to the beautiful bride as she prepared to walk down the aisle without her father.

Peace said the community that gathered around the couple, acknowledging the loss, celebrating the love that had drawn us there.

Peace we said, unable to stop the storm but choosing to stand within it, to still ourselves, to turn our faces toward the One who speaks peace, who breathes peace, who is peace.

Blessing in the Storm

I cannot claim
to still the storm
that has seized you,
cannot calm
the waves that wash
through your soul,
that break against
your fierce and
aching heart.

But I will wade
into these waters,
will stand with you
in this storm,
will say peace to you
in the waves,
peace to you
in the winds,
peace to you
in every moment
that finds you still
within the storm.

For a previous reflection on this passage, visit Stirring the Sleeping Savior. I also have a new post at Devotion Café.

[To use the image "Still in the Storm," please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

25 Responses to “Still in the Storm”

  1. Maureen Says:

    A dear friend of mine and her husband just experienced the same extremes of emotions, spending time with a sister who is dying and then attending a day or two later a wedding in the family.

    Your poem so beautifully speaks to the deep sadness followed by the joy.

  2. Lisa Degrenia Says:

    Thank you for the reminder of the ministry of presence and companionship in the midst of the storm. It brought to mind the image of a midwife, breathing with the one in labor.

  3. Kellyann Says:

    This painting, story, and poem are blessings. Thank you.

  4. Christianne Says:

    This is beautiful, Jan. The painting is so … well, I don’t know if I have words for what it evokes in me. I love the thickness of the paint, the way I can almost feel the texture of those grooves as I look at it. I love the colors, deep and visceral. I can feel and see the waves crashing.

    Thank you for sharing the painting and this reflection. It was good to be reminded of this couple whose beautiful day was yesterday but took place in the midst of heartache. Such a picture of the rhythm of life happening all around us all the time. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to hold such joy in the midst of such sorrow. I’m glad they had your presence of joy and peace with them in that moment.

  5. Richard Landon Says:

    Jan,

    Sorry I missed seeing you at Annual Conference. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and paintings online and tell you how great our God is. I actually preached on this passage today and to come home and find this in my inbox was such a gift. The painting, poem and story all helped to continue to bring the passage to life. Thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Richard! Sorry to miss you at Annual Conference. Thanks for your presence here at The Painted Prayerbook and for the gift of your words. Blessings!

  6. Gail Churchill Says:

    This is a keeper. I even like the poetry. And the title, “Blessing in the Storm” I can take with me and remember as I go from this place.

  7. Mary Ann Sinclair Says:

    This poem is so poignant as we experience our own loss. There is occasionally peace on this river. I grasp it as it floats by.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thanks so much, Mary Ann. I continue to think of you and Ed and pray that there will be much peace for you on this river. Deep blessings and much gratitude to you.

  8. Debora Says:

    Your poem is lovely. Several years ago my brother died on my oldest son’s wedding day. We have never told my son this because we didn’t want anything to cloud his special day. But I think of it often…

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Debora, thank you. What a time of joy and grief that must have been for you. Blessings and peace to you as you continue to hold that memory. Thank you for your words and for your own lovely blog.

  9. pam smith Says:

    Beautiful Jan — thank you for this.

  10. Debbie Allen Says:

    Jan, it was peace to read this today. On Easter I enjoyed a few brief glorious hours of feeling like the fog of grief lifted from the death of my dad last year. And then that afternoon we entered into this new storm of my mother’s illness and diagnosis with advanced metastatic breast cancer. I’m not sure I’ve even made it to the middle of this storm yet, but I’m comforted to be reminded I’m not in the waves alone. Thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Debbie, thanks so much for your words—they’re a tremendous gift to me. I’m so sorry for the storm you are in. Know I’m holding you and yours in prayer and sending many blessings for your mom. So good to see you last week. Reckon we can arrange to sit together at ordination for a third consecutive year-? Great to celebrate Daryl’s ordination with you—congratulations to you both!

      Thank you again. Deep gratitude and much peace to you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      P.S. I’m so glad to know about your blog!

  11. Jan Richardson Says:

    Friends, thanks so much for the gift of your words. I’m grateful for the ways you stand with folks in their storms and for sharing from your own stormy places. Blessings and peace to all of you and to those you stand with.

  12. Ted Says:

    Beautifully depicted in the painting; beautifully stated in the prose and poetry. Thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Ted! It’s great to hear from you; I’m grateful for your words. Blessings on this threshold of summer.

  13. Elizabeth Nordquist Says:

    Late in the week, I return to this post time after time, not for storms of my own so much, as those I have been given to love. Thanks…again and again!

  14. Debbie Viele Says:

    I shared this poem with my three cousins. One of them is fighting pancreatic cancer, the other two caring for her. It said what I wanted them to hear from me and from God. Standing with. As Elizabeth said here I have come back to it again and again. Thank you Jan.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Debbie, thanks so much. I wish you and your cousins many blessings in the giving and receiving of care. Your words remind me of a verse from one of the scripture readings that the couple chose for the wedding I did last weekend: “And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4.12). Peace to all of you as you stand together.

  15. Melynne Says:

    Dear Jan, I am only now reading your post from last Sunday, and it has filled me with peace and affirmed the week I have had (I wish I had read it on Sunday). I came home from conference last Saturday and found out that evening that one of our students had passed away, having taken his own life. I met with his family and friends and we planned a memorial service that was held this past Tuesday. During this tumultuous time, I was continually prompted by God’s Spirit to remember that I am to enter into this family’s storm carrying peace…..speaking peace, breathing peace, embodying peace. And so, it is a sacred affirmation to read your words this morning, and the words of so many others in these comments, and to remember how we are the carriers of peace, and at the same time, we are the receivers of peace. Thank you, thank you, thank you…sweet peace to you and Gary.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Oh, Melynne—I’m so sorry about the death of the student, and so glad for the peaceful spirit that you received and carried to his family. I know your peaceful presence was a great gift to them in a heartbreaking time. I wish them, and you, many blessings. Thank you for your words—they are a gift. Deep peace to you and yours!

  16. Susan Says:

    Jan –
    beautiful prose – thank you. I may use it in my sermon tomorrow (with proper credit to you, of course) if that’s okay.
    The peace Christ gives is right smack dab in the middle of all of life and death and yuck and ahhhhh, isn’t it?

    sounds like your presence was true gift to the bride & groom. thanks for your ministry.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Kind thanks, Susan! Yes, delighted for you to use this. And, yes—love how you put it about how the peace Christ gives is right smack dab in the middle of it all… Blessings and peace to you, and may there be more ahhhhh than yuck!

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