Monday, July 6, 2015

A Psalm For The Morning After

 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

 My tears have been my food day and night,
 while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
 how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you
 from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls;
 all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me?
 Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me,
 while they say to me all the day long,“Where is your God?”

 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42
Reflection – Well, I am back from a lovely week at Cana Colony, the MH-run family camp, and the blog is back as well, with this lovely psalm. As a matter of fact, the Church prays this psalm as part of its Morning Prayer on this very day, Monday Week 2.

It is a psalm well suited to the morning, especially the morning after a difficult night, a night spent tossing and turning in a fever of anxiety, perhaps, or some deep trouble. As usual in the psalms, we don’t know what the exact problem is the psalmist has, and this is good, as we can apply the psalm to whatever our troubles may be right now.

This psalm is particularly good due to its fine poetic imagery—‘as a deer pants for flowing streams… deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls… why are you cast down, O my soul...’ And in this imagery, we can see the constant message of all of the psalms: whatever the specific trouble, whatever the details of our lives and their burdens and sorrows, what is really happening in and through all of them is one simple and basic thing.

Namely, we are touching the radically incomplete and broken nature of creation as it is, and in that feel keenly and deeply our need for God’s redemption, His radical intervention in our lives and in the life of the world.

It is all in there in this psalm—the fear that God is actually absent or even non-existent, the desire to see all humanity united and entering the house of God to praise Him, the memory of past graces to sustain us in current hardship, the relapse nonetheless into deep despondency and doubt, and the final message of hope and out of hope, praise of God.

All in all, it is a fairly typical morning after the night before (so to speak) in MH, and perhaps in your life, too! And that is as it should be—until we are at the end of the pilgrimage and do enter and see the face of God, we will be in some place in Psalm 42, somewhere and in some fashion engaged with the broken ‘not yet’ quality of the world as it is, and needing to move in a spirit of hope to the world as it will be, the world as God is fashioning it to be in Christ.

That’s what we’re all doing today, or at least are supposed to do in the midst of whatever else we are about, so let’s get at it.

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