Today is the Feast of St. Bede, the wonderful yet enigmatic historian from whom we know so much about early English history.
Today’s psalms–at least on my cycle of Daily Lectio–land us at Psalms 50 to 52. 50 is another of the very unfamiliar ones to me, and nothing really hooked me as I read it. But when I arrived at 51, I was immediately taken back to Maundy Thursday…
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my
and cleanse me from my sin.” (NRSV)
The Book of Common Prayer Psalter describes this as God’s “loving-kindness”…I think of Bruggemann’s hesed descriptions…that unfailing love and concern for God. One could say God’s mindfulness of us…that God has a mind for us, a care and concern. Interestingly, the BCP also uses “wickedness” rather than “sin.” Laying these two side by side, wickedness seems even more harsh, don’t you think?
I have to say, I love the imagery in Fischer’s interpretation. It’s gripping!
“Be gracious with me in your loving-kindness
In your tenderness blot out my confusion
Wash me, let my impurity run off
Cleanse me, squeeze the poison out
For of my twistedness I’m painfully aware
My weakness is before my eyes all day long.”
His translation may very well be my favorite. The image of God “squeezing the poison out” of us is a powerful one indeed!
I wonder what it would be like if we found a place for this within Holy Week, the way we can see Lent as a pressure time of sorts, a space of intentionality that “squeezes the poison out of us” through our practices.
It’s interesting to juxtapose God’s hesed, God’s faithfulness, with the image of God “squeezing the poison out.” But, sometimes that’s what being faithful must look like. And, God knows sometimes we need the poison squeezed out.
Hmm. There’s much more here to be sure. I’ll be interested to see what hooks me next month when I cycle back around.