I gaze at the heavens,
searching for you, my God.
(Ps. 123:1, ICEL Psalter)
I gaze at the heavens,
I used to think the rules were thereTo save me from my freedom and make me goodTo keep my feelings in their place, and never let my will escapeTo never choose, but just obey – I thought surrender was that way. I used to think that freedom meant to leave the trail and wander by myselfTo make my way through the weeds – let my feelings take the leadWhat to do, how to be – it would all be up to me. I have longed to be free, so I have run, I’ve run, I’ve runI’ve run, I’ve run. But now I know that to follow you I must be freeAnd to be free I must followYou made me free so I could choose if I want to follow youYour will will always set me free so I can truly become me. You set my heart free, and so I […]
I say to God my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?Why must I go about taunted by my enemy?”Voices question me, saying, Where is your God?Where is your God? Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfallsAnd all of your waves have swept over meNo piece of myself is the way that it was beforeThe roar of your voice tells my soul that it’s free.and voices question me, saying, Where is your God?Where is your God? Why are you downcast my soul?Why so disturbed within me?Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise my healer and my GodI will yet praise you, the God of my life, you’re the God of my life. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfallsAnd all of your waves have swept over meNo piece of myself is the way that it was beforeThe roar of your voice tells […]
Psalm 33:6, ICEL God speaks: the heavens are made; God breathes: the stars shine. About 10,000 galaxies appear in the Hubble ultra-deep-field image. A detail is shown to the left, and the full image is at the bottom of this post. It’s a real picture, not an artist’s rendition, and some of the galaxies in it are more than 13 billion years old. Last week I had a dream in which I’m walking steadily up a hill, and I’m about five paces from the top. But no matter how many steps I take, I can’t crest the hill. The view stays the same: under my feet it’s an empty, dry-grass hillside. Everywhere else, space. Galaxies, stars, and nebulae are laid out before me, with inky blackness between them. No trees, houses, telephone poles, or mountains are on the horizon, and no clouds, moon, haze, or planets are in the sky. […]
Praise! Give glory to God! Nations, peoples, give glory! Strong the love embracing us. Faithful the Lord for ever. (Ps. 117, ICEL) The ICEL Psalter, published in 1994 “for study and comment,” bears the imprimatur, a declaration from the Catholic church that a book is free of moral and doctrinal error. The imprimatur was revoked in 1998, apparently because of the translators’ use of gender-inclusive language. That was the end of the road for study and comment, as far as I know. The ICEL Psalter is out of print, and existing copies are expensive. What a shame. If you happen be one of the 38 people who worked on this beautiful and reverent translation (begun in 1964!), I thank you. Your work blesses me deeply and leads me closer to the living God.
Psalm 69:18, ICEL Face me, I am desperate. The first time I walked the outdoor labyrinth at Mercy Center Burlingame was the first time I walked any labyrinth. I had no expectations. Right away, the path led me close to the center, which surprised me. Here so soon? But the path kept going, so I kept going. I turned, turned again, turned again. What I had done, I seemed to repeat. Then the path led me out to the edge where a pine tree threw deep shade, and sap and pinecone petals on the ground made the way less distinct. That edge is the place for tangents (which meet the edges of curves everywhere), and walking along it, I felt like I might fall right out of the circle. But that shady quadrant is close to the achieved center, if you just keep walking. When I turned the final corner and raised […]
Psalm 51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. In the metaphor of the inner round table, I gather whatever is true inside me around the central and organizing Truth. That central and organizing Truth is like the steady flame of a candle. In gathering the parts of myself around it, I simply notice…and let it be. I’m trying to practice this more often: gently being present to what’s in me, both the parts of me that I like, and the parts that I’d just as soon pretend not to see. Who’s around the table today? Ah, I see you. Welcome. Maybe through this practice, I’m allowing God to bring about more of something that God desires: truth in my inward being. An alternative is that one of the “guests” takes over the party and moves into the center, throwing the other […]
Ps. 124:7b …the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. I imagine that when snared animals are set free, if their wounds are not mortal, they bolt into the forest as fast as they can go. Hurt, but free. Once in a while these injured creatures (the ones inside of me, anyway) come shyly out of the forest, hoping to be tended and helped. More food, more light and air, more clean water. Snare wounds heal with time. Then the creatures bolt away again. Every time I see them, they are more whole, more joyful. But part of the healing is the experience of old feelings that never had a chance to be felt. Each visit hurts. And when they go, they always leave a day or two of sadness behind them, like a wake. It helps to know that the next time I see them, they will be […]
Psalm 8:3 (Message) I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. The Genesis creation stories put an order to things: first this, then that. Or no. Hold on. First that, then this. We’re told two stories, and they contradict. I don’t mind, though. The contradictions help me to shift my gaze from the literal to the poetic. And with this softer gaze, I notice the One who came into being first in both stories. The Creator preexisted the whole lot of us. The Creator is the lead actor, the heroine, the protagonist, in our creation stories. And our protagonist’s feats are astonishing! “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers….” (Ps. 8:3 TNIV). Well…what does happen when we consider it? When we consider God’s sky-jewelry, stars and galaxies, moons and suns, all made by hand, the work […]
Psalm 63:6 On my bed I remember you— I think of you through the watches of the night. I have a medical test coming up, and last night I lay awake spinning out possibilities. I’m not God, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t possess the facts. Even so, I want to believe I can figure it out. So on my bed I remembered me— I thought of me through the watches of the night. It didn’t feel good, though. Each fantastical, self-absorbed thought was delicious, but made my heart sicker. It reminded me of a time when I ate my way through several boxes of Screaming Yellow Zonkers. ← Not helpful. But as I was crunching away on my anxious thoughts, I remembered Psalm 63:6, and it sounded like healthy food. Antipanic medicine for my soul. I made an effort to do what the psalmist had done, to remember […]