A junior religion teacher at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark who had created a unique assignment for his students is now turning that work into a collection of pieces.
Stephen Adubato typically has his students study Psalm 63 from the Bible. “We usually highlight the themes of longing and desire for God, as well as the imagery that David uses to express it,” Adubato said.
The class ended up extending the semester once classes went virtual due to the pandemic. This allowed Adubato to cover a few other psalms that he normally would not have enough time to explore. He assigned students to write a psalm of lamentation about their experience living through COVID-19.
“I told them to express their sadness, frustration and desire to find God using the images we see in the psalms,” he explained.
Adubato combined the students’ work into a digital booklet, including student photos, that highlight the psalms’ themes. The prayers are an example of how faith can provide a bit of solace during these uncertain times.
Below are excerpts from the student book of psalms.
To view the entire collection, click here.
Photo by Tyler Jenkins
Oh lord the fear* is causing me to remember,
when I could have gone a different path* but stayed on the walk.
For loneliness can cause* our true selves to come out,
like a lion becoming free from his cage.* Yet have we been in this cage so long,
we have forgotten how* to act in the wild.
We always asked for time to ourselves,* yet now
we beg to be free from our pain.
For those distractions* were the only sunshine
I ask for help,* as I’ve done for so long,
Yet I feel you’ve gone and run along.*I can’t tell if
this journey is one I must take.
Or if you are screaming at me to leave.* I keep
looking for signs,
but I feel you’ve kept me* from being free.
What must I do?* I need your help.
Maybe the hope I’ve been looking for* isn’t with you.
Maybe, it’s always been in me.
By Ben Heineman
Oh Lord hear my call to you.
Why do you let me suffer* with these feelings I am having?
I feel like I am a bear cub that has been left* by its Momma and Poppa Bear.
I feel like I am at the bottom of an ocean of darkness* drowning in my despair.
I feel like I am digging and clawing* my way
through life day by day
never knowing when* the suffering is going to
Oh Lord, why do you let me feel this way?* Am
I not enough for you?
I lay on the grass and stare up at the sky*
acknowledging your presence, I see you, do
you see me too?
If you truly do see me* then why must you let me feel all this pain and suffering?
If you really do love me,* why must you let this happen?
When I think of love,* I think of the nurturing
and caring of a mother* and a father to their children,
protecting them and making sure* they are not alone during their most difficult
times of suffering.
Why do you not care for me,* nurture me during my time of suffering,
why must you let me suffer?* Why must you let me feel like I am floating in space,
in your endless galaxy alone…* with no breath of fresh air?
I do not understand you,* I thought I knew you, but clearly... I am mistaken.
Everyone speaks of your name* God, Allah, Yaweh.
All of these names for you, these people worship you,* praise you, devote their life to you, but what for?
So that you can let them feel what I am feeling?* For some of them, so you can
watch their loved ones be taken away* from them to enter into your “Kingdom?”
I do not get you, no matter how much I try,* I do not know who you are,
or why you even exist,* are you just a figment of my imagination?
I feel that if you are really* who everyone claims you are to them,
this pillar, this support,* this light through the darkness, show me.
Oh Lord I call upon you to show me your light* during this dark chapter of my life,
and then maybe just maybe,* I can learn to understand you.
By Akhir Crenshaw