My AHA! Moment This Morning

Contemplation is not the quiet times of meditation – it is the seeing of God’s love in every ordinary moment of life, in every person, every encounter. Times of quiet meditation are simply the tool some of us choose, the tool that suits some, to help us live a life of active, ongoing, pervasive contemplation.

[I am reading, slowly, Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation.]

Psalm 86

Supplication for Help against Enemies

Hear me and answer me, God, for I am poor in spirit and needy
Shall I bargain with You?
Preserve my peace of mind and I will be devoted to You
You will be my God
Well, You are God but I will worship You as MY God
Still, always, I come crying to You to save me, although You already have
But I guess I am greedy as well as needy
Because I want more
I want You to save me from myself
I want You to make me happy, to lift my spirits
To prove how good and forgiving You are
To answer when I ask for Your help
To answer in the way that I want

[Shall I pause here to remind You how great You are?
That there is none other like You
That everyone and everything bows before You
You are great, You do wondrous things, You alone are God]

So here’s what I want
First, I want You to teach me how to live as Your child
How to live in Your truth, how to glorify You always
How to revere You with an undivided heart
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
After all, Your love for me is steadfast
You have already saved me
So, second, I want You to win my battles for me
You know my enemies: the terrible Ds
That destroy my peace, shred my faith, bury my hope
I count on You to be merciful and gracious
Please, I ask You, be slow to get angry with me
Be steadfast in Your abounding love for me
Be faithful to me even when I am doubting and faithless myself
Be gracious to me
Win my battles with Your strength
Save me, show me Your favor
Help me, comfort me, heal me
Make me better, please. Amen.

An Allegory, or Parable

Once upon a time there were 12 people in a room. This room was very beautiful with large windows on every wall. Now it happened that 10 of the 12 people were blind which was sad because they could not experience the full beauty of the room. On this cloudless summer day deep in the South, as the sun climbed ever higher in the sky, the room grew brighter and brighter. The two people who were not blind said to the others, “We want to pull down the shades because the bright sun is hurting our eyes.” But the ten blind people said, “The sun is not hurting our eyes. We don’t understand what you mean. We don’t know what bright is.” And the blind people and the sighted people fought and it was sad.

Psalm 87

A small psalm of quiet, enduring joy

I am created, founded, saved by God
My life is God’s holy city and God loves me
In me, whatever my faults
Whatever my doubts, my darkness
In me is also, always, God’s glory and grace
I focus so often on the darkness
Despair, depression, doubts, defeat
That I forget the victory
I forget that God Herself created me
Loves me, lives with me
I forget that God rejoices in me
Please and praise
When my heart sings
When my spirit dances
It is from You, God, that my joy flows. Amen.

Psalm 88

Heman the Ezrahite speaks for me, cries out
All those thousands of years ago, as I so often cry out now
O Sovereign God of my salvation
When I end my day discouraged, crying to You
Hear me, let my prayer come before you
“For my soul is full of troubles”
I feel like hell
I feel like I am headed for hell
Do You forget anyone?
Have You forgotten me?
Have You cut me off?
Abandoned me to the hell of my own making
In the dark and deep regions of my mind?
Ah, I feel overwhelmed and I fear Your anger
Please help
I don’t even like my own company
I want to rejoice and instead I cry
I want to feel thankful, not sorry for myself
I keep trying, really, God, I do
I try to come to You every day
But sometimes I think my soul is too deadened
And sometimes I think You are dead
Please help
Can I praise You from a dead heart?
Can I live for You if I feel like hell?
Now, this morning, once again, I come crying to You
Don’t abandon me
(Even though sometimes I abandon You)
Don’t give up on me, don’t hide from me
See my desperation, my terror
As darkness closes in over me, as I drown
Hemmed in by my faults
My thoughts are in darkness, although it is dawn. Amen

Psalm 89

Now I will set aside doubt and darkness
And I will sing of Your steadfast love and enduring faithfulness
For a moment, I will let myself feel the eternity
Of Your steadfast love and enduring faithfulness
As if Your promise to be with me forever
Means I will never again feel doubt or darkness or despair
Because You can do that
Because You are greatest, most powerful
What is my darkness to Your light?
My doubt to Your enduring faithfulness?
You quiet my raging fears
You crush my threatening doubt
You scatter my confusion
You created me, all of me
The quiet and the tumult
The faith and the doubt
The confidence and the struggle
The light and the dark
You created all of me
To joyously praise Your name
You are strong, stronger than my best strength
You are steadfast love to my wavering
You are enduring faithfulness to my wandering
You are my happiness
In Your light, I shout for joy
I exalt Your name all day long
I live Your righteousness
For You are my strength, my shield
You are my sovereign
You promised me that I am Yours forever
With You, I am safe, secure
Chosen, anointed, strong
So I thought my doubts and darkness gone forever
I thought my world forever safe
In Your steadfast love and enduring faithfulness
Because You are my Parent, my God
And the Rock of my salvation
In You I have forever victory
In You I have forever peace
In Your steadfast love
You banish my doubts, my darkness
You discipline my heart and mind
You end my struggles
You remain true to me
In Your steadfast love and enduring faithfulness
Once and for all You saved me
Forever, for all eternity
And I thought that meant I would know only peace
Only Your peace that passes understanding
But the doubts return
Discouragement smothers my hope again
My doubts, my despair, my regrets
My sorrows, my failings
Once again plunder my peace
Where is Your steadfast love, Your enduring faithfulness
When I feel abandoned and defeated
Old and tired, trampled and cast aside
When I ask how long
How long, great Lady Wisdom must I keep struggling
How long the darkness
How long the doubt
Has my joy in You died forever?
Where is Your steadfast love, Your enduring faithfulness?
Remember me, great Lady Wisdom, see me, hear me
I know that You have already rescued me
I know that
But I don’t always feel that, I can’t always live that
Sometimes, I cannot sing of Your steadfast love and enduring faithfulness
Sometimes, I am reduced to a single hope
Blessed be God, Lady Wisdom, in my life forever. Amen and Amen

Psalm 90

Creator/Redeemer/Sustainer God, You, You – I keep returning to You
Before I was, before anyone or anything was
You are
From everlasting to everlasting, You are God
In Your time, You will end my life
All my life and more is now to You
Compared to Your eternity, Your Is-ness
My life is grass, growing quickly
Withering just as quickly
I grew up fearing Your anger, Your wrath
Your hate of my sins
Your knowledge of all my secrets and my faults
The psalmist says our life is seventy years
Or perhaps eighty if we are strong
And those years will be spent “under Your wrath”
They will come to an end with a sigh
And in the meantime we will know only toil and trouble
I will soon be seventy
Have I feared You enough?
What does that even mean?
How do I fear You and still know my sure salvation in You?
Where is my wise heart?
Did I understand Your steadfast love in the morning of my life?
Can I find joy now in Your enduring faithfulness for all my days?
With gladness I turn over to You the burden of my faults, my failures
With gladness I admit defeat and rely on Your glorious power
Let the favor of Lady Wisdom, my God, be upon me
And quiet my tumult, preserve my peace
O please, quiet my tumult, preserve my peace. Amen

Sparks of thoughts

Bright trails of burning sparklers
The years behind
How many ahead

Do years bring
[wisdom, forgiveness, charity, gratitude]
Do years soften or harden
[hearts, minds, arteries, beliefs, bodies, souls]

I do not suffer fools gladly
And sometimes I think
Most people are fools
And sometimes I think
I am the biggest fool of all

Aftermath II

The wind is stilled
The earth is quiet
The fire is quenched
I hear the whispered questions

Who will love justice
Who will carry the burden of injustice
Who will know their own failings
Who will walk on troubled waters
Who will reach for My hand
When sinking with the weight of sin
With the exhaustion of trying
With the failure of understanding

Let me recognize
My privilege
My prejudice
My racism
My failures in love
Let me grasp God’s steadfast love for all
And enduring faithfulness to me. Amen