The Walking Dead and Prayer
I never thought that I would be that person. Guts, zombies, and fear-dramas were something I had always sworn against, but The Walking Dead was coming out with a new season on Netflix and on a spontaneous whim I decided to try it.
For all it’s blood and gore, the first few seasons have this compelling theme of struggle not just for the survival of mankind, but for the survival of hope. If nothing else, working a cubicle job and wishing for other things…I can identify in my own way with this struggle for hope. There are times when we all can.
There’s a point in The Walking Dead where the main character, Rick, has spent a great deal of time away from killing zombies and a lot more time safely planting a garden inside the closed perimeter of the prison fence where their group safely lives. Slowly, slowly, he has nurtured his hope for a more idilic future for his son into the land and watched it grow into carrots and piglets. The zombies loom outside the fence, always, but for a while Rick separates himself from the obvious threat of destruction and allows his hope in a better life to grow.
I’d like to think I’m a writer. After writing my first manuscript, something happened that was both wonderful and terrible. There was a publishing company in New York, a pretty reputable one that’s published some famous YA fictions about lovestruck vampires and terminally ill teenagers falling in love. I had solicited more than a few publishers with a proposal, explaining my book and why they should want to publish it, and this particular publishing house contacted me wanting to read my manuscript.
For three days I felt like my whole world was falling into place. I’d worked an entire year on this manuscript, poured days upon days into each word. After all that hard work, and this good news, I felt the weightless sensation of absolute and boundless hope.
Then on the third day I received that dreaded, unceremonious, mass email that is sent whenever a personalized touch is not necessary, summed up in the following phrase: Thanks, but no thanks.
It is a blessing that the Lord does not leave us to alone to our short sighted hopes, or to our gut-wrenching disappointments.
I was reading some sermons by Fredrick Buchner recently and I was only in the introduction when he started prodding me right where I was wounded. He had written, “Even if you’re afraid that your prayers will be unanswered, pray them anyway.” Those words made me angry. I slammed the book shut and grumbled, “What do you know, Mr. Fredrick…?” I was afraid to pray, because I was afraid to hope again only to be disappointed.
But I couldn’t get that sentence out of my head. The next day at work, I wrote it on a sticky note, and now every day when I sit down to my desk job I read it.
Prayer can look a lot like angry shouting, or like your grieving the death of a loved one. It can look like you’re an insane asylum inmate, laughing and crying at the same time. It can involve the greatest terror you might ever feel, when the reality of the power of God shakes your knees together and you can hardly breath. Or sometimes it can be like a beautiful film score, with all the most heart-swelling arrangements, making you feel so full you could float away.
Whatever the state of your hopes and dreams, of your heart and all its inner workings, I implore you. Knock. Keep knocking. Even if you have to change your tactics and burn the door down, don’t give up seeking God, praying, asking, reading. For all the things that always change, for the circumstances you trusted in, the conditions that made you feel at rest, the truth is that God is the only hope and dream, the only peace and rest, that never dies.