I am deep into what could be understood as the perilous Psalms, or the Psalms that are an account of those crying out to God for salvation in the midst of turmoil. This morning, we have Psalm 56, 57, and 58. They are wonderful in their images, in the way they give us ‘room,’ as it were, to express our own feelings of pain and suffering. Who hasn’t wondered where God is, or who hasn’t called out to God for help against “the foe,” whoever that may be.
And, I think back to Nan Merrill’s description from yesterday, that sometimes, our greatest foe is our own illusions.
I love the way the Psalms have this rhythm, of acknowledging present circumstances and hardships, of crying out to God for help, and then in praise. Even in the midst of the most heartfelt and struggling situation, one hears the Psalmist cry out:
“For you have delivered my soul
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of my life.” (Psalm 56 NRSV).
These are the exquisite Miserere mei, Deus Psalms… “Have mercy on me, O God…”
The imagery of Psalm 57 hooks me:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,
for I have taken refuge in you;
in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge
until this time of trouble has gone by.”(BCP).
I notice so much more the allusions to “taking refuge in God,” and these words pop off the page at me. Maybe I read these Psalms with a nod toward Buddhism, that wonderful space where practitioners, students of the Dharma, speak of “taking refuge.” I resonate with this so much more than with the rational, cerebral version of Christianity that I see around me.
This is why this practice of Daily Lectio with the Psalms speaks so much to me, because it has become my practice, my way of “taking refuge” in God, by reflecting on these ancient words–and new translations–and feeling these resonances within myself.
One last note: I have always loved the imagery from Psalm 56:8
“You have noted my lametation;
put my tears in your bottle;
are they not recorded in your book?” (BCP)