Lately I’ve had this poem in my head, and I thought I should definitely share it. It was written by E. Margaret Clarkson, a woman who lived with debilitating pain through much of her life. I find it extremely encouraging during times of physical pain.
A Stryker Frame was a kind of hospital bed designed to keep a person completely immobile. It was also made where it could be rotated 360°. Clarkson was awaiting surgery while she was in such a frame, some time before 1975.
I tried to seek permission to publish this work, but as the author died in 2008, and I found it in an out-of-print book, I have no idea who owns the work.
Prayer From A Stryker Frame
Lord, I lie here,
Strapped down, motionless, almost insensible,
Skewered to this strange board
By the cruel, incredible pain;
Unable to move hand, foot, or head
Because of pain’s intensity
And the exigencies of the Stryker.
Pain racks my body through and through;
I lie on a bed of pointed, red-hot nails, Invisible forces pressing, pressing me down
Harder, harder into them…
I scarcely knew such pain could be.
Once You lay on a bed of coals,
Spiked to a stake by pain
Far beyond anything I experience now
Or can possibly imagine.
They lifted You up
Till the nails must have seared Your very soul,
Tearing Your body with the awful thud
Of a cross dumped roughly deep in a pit,
And You impaled upon it.
I lie here of my own necessity,
Hoping to be made well in time
By mystery of surgery;
Willing to be purified by pain
For my own advantage.
You hung there
Out of pure love,
Willing to be crucified, to die
For my sake;
Hoping to gain nothing for Yourself
But Heaven for me. Your anguished cry, “Forsaken!”
Wrung from parched, sinless lips,
Goes echoing down the ages; finds me here
And meets my need.
No “Why?” torments my fevered brain today
For I am not alone:
You answered all the questions
Of tortured human hearts
Once and for all. Your risen life
Within, around, above, beneath,
In my pain,
And in Your peace I rest. They turn me over now. Circulation
And other physical requirements dictate
This painful thrust
Three times each day.
Here I lie, prostrate,
Face to the dust,
Humble before Your feet.
Face to the dust, I worship You, my Lord,
In this strange, love-lit sanctuary,
Bowed by compulsion, true,
But also by new love,
Freshly born of pain,
Adoring You in wonder and in awe
Who for my sake