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I can count all my bones.


"I can count all my bones" 2022 gouache painting of the crucifix in Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Norco, LA.

There aren't a lot of words you feel like saying for Good Friday. It's that one day beyond words, because The Word you believe in is bleeding on a tree. The Word you believe in has guts and a beating heart gushes forth blood and water. Imagine being the soldier who pierced His side. Imagine some scrupulous stabbing, only to get assaulted with a bloody spring.


One of the last words Jesus wailed was "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" from Psalm 22, a lamentation that fits in the genre of the anguished and thankful todah. The psalms are beyond words. It's music. It's guts. Words are futile devices when your guts drape over your you skin, out your bones. When you can't talk, sing like you mean it.


Another exhale from Psalm 22 contains the line that gave me the title for this painting:


"Like water my life drains away;

all my bones are disjointed.

My heart has become like wax,

it melts away within me.


As dry as a potsherd is my throat;

my tongue cleaves to my palate;

you lay me in the dust of death.*


Dogs surround me;

A pack of evildoers closes in on me.

They have pierced my hands and my feet

I can count all my bones."


"I can count all my bones." That one hurts. That one hurst a lot.


I was able to get coffee with one of my professors over the summer to pick his brain about mental health and all of its aspects in the context of discernment and prayer in general. This professor is one of those folks who has some vagabonded anecdote for everything. We talked anxiety. We talked abuse. We talked scandal. We talked anguish. We talked psalms. He described a conversation he was having with a Rabbi where the Rabbi said something like, "You Christians are always talking about praying with your heart. How about praying with your guts?"


I guess it takes guts to bring moaning, wails, and every whimper of injustice to the Father. And I guess it takes guts to believe He'll receive them.


The later breath in Psalm 22:


"For he has not spurned or disdained

the misery of this poor wretch,

did not turn away from me,

but heard me when I cried."



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