Psalm 123

To You I lift up my eyes
To You, enthroned in my heart, my history, my memory
As the eyes of a servant
Look to her mistress
So my eyes look to You, my God
Until You have mercy on me
So, please, let it be so
Have mercy on me, O God
Have mercy on me
I have had more than enough of my own thoughts
My scorn for my failings
My pride for my successes
Have mercy on me, O God. Amen

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Psalm 122

Gladness fills my heart when I turn to You, my God
When I live within the comfort of Your Word
Not Your man-made images
Not the self-righteous religious
Not sermons or books
But within Your life within me
Within the sureness that Your goodness and mercy
Surround me, like a holy city
A holy city of love and justice
Ageless and eternal
A city of Your throne in my heart
Your throne of loving judgement
And wise choices
Within each of Your children
Ah, God my Savior and Wisdom
I pray that I may love You
I pray to live within Your peace and security
Let me reflect Your goodness and love for all
Let me work for Your peace for all. Amen

Wherein I finally have some insight into living in the moment

In yoga this morning, as I started a seated forward bend, I got a bit impatient with myself because I couldn’t reach my feet. A few minutes later, as I let go of my impatience and relaxed into the pose (with the teacher’s gentle instruction), I felt my body sinking a bit lower and my index fingers encircle my big toes. Slowly I sat back up.

Later, in Warrior 1, I saw that the young person across from me had her thigh bent almost parallel to the floor. I remembered being able to do that and looked down ruefully at my own thigh, which was still closer to vertical than horizontal. I wanted to be able to do what I could once do. Instead, I focused over the head of the person across from me and let my body relax a little more into the pose. Not a lot, just micro-movements, but I focused on my own body.

Later still, during the final seated mindfulness time, I thought about those moments and I thought that my focus and goal cannot be to be as good as, or better than, I once was; and it cannot be to be as good as, or better than, anyone else. My only focus should be my body right then and there, as it is in that moment. To listen to it, to respect it, and to help it to move freely in that moment.

And then I thought, “I make that same kind of mistake with God.” I too often compare – how strong is my belief compared to what it once was, compared to someone else’s belief? How can I recapture a past certainty, a past peace, a past immersion in liturgy? How can I be as sure as others?

Instead I am going to try to sink into my relationship with God right at the moment I am praying. Just let it be, even if that is doubting God’s existence. Just letting the moment be enough, with whatever I can have of God right then. I’m not quite sure how exactly I will do that. Writing about it is part of helping myself to do that and trying to tell others is part of helping myself to do that.

Even though these words are a very poor reflection of the immediacy and impact of the insight in the moment I had it.

Psalm 121

Remembering Gordon

Gordon thought the psalm meant that help was coming from the hills
I thought it meant that danger was coming from the hills
Gordon lived in assurance – he knew that God had him
Through the hills and valleys
Whether Gordon was faithful or faithless (be it to God or family)
When Gordon looked up, he always saw God, knew God’s saving presence
For me, wherever I look, I see danger and doubt
Often, too often, darkness and despair
Help! Where is there help for my hopeless helplessness?
Ah yes, there is God – creator of heaven and earth
Surely, God is powerful enough to help me
God doesn’t forget me, God doesn’t desert me
God shelters me from my own despair
God shields me from my terrible defeats
God saves me from death
God keeps me from evil
God keeps my joy and my sorrow, my light and my darkness
My triumphs and my failures, my loves and my hates
God keeps ME – from this time on and forevermore. Amen.

Psalm 120

In distress, I call out to God
Please hear me, answer me
Deliver me, O God
From lying to myself
From deceiving myself
From deceiving others
How is this to happen
How can I live truth and love
Ah, another D: deceit
How, God, how do I destroy deceit
I feel without hope
A refugee exiled from God’s kingdom
Too long have I struggled
Struggled with my own worst
Struggled with my own insufficient love
My own insufficient peace
I want peace, I long for peace
But too often I feel anger
So in distress, I call out to You, God
Please hear me, answer me
Deliver me, O God
Defeat my raging wars with myself
And grant me Your peace. Amen

Psalm 119 – a work in progress

All happiness comes through knowing You, my God
Seeking you with my whole heart, walking with You
Oh, that I could be as steadfast to You as You are to me
Then joy and peace would come more readily
Then I should not sink in shame
Then I could praise You with an upright heart
Ah yes, then and then and mythical, magical then
It is not to be, but do not forsake me, O my God

By guarding my heart according to Your Word
By seeking You with my whole hear
By treasuring Your Word in my heart
I find freedom and peace, love and wisdom
Blessed are you, O God
Teach me where delight is truly found
Teach me to meditate on Your truth
Teach me to remember You

Can You please be generous with me so that I may live
Can you please open my eyes to Your wonders
Do not hide from me
I long to know You better
When I wander from You, I am unhappy
I start to feel only contempt and score
For myself and for others
Your enduring love is my delight and my best guide

Dust, my efforts are but dust unless You enrich them
When I pray, You listen (though I do not hear an answer)
Help me to believe, to understand, to remember You
I melt into sorrow unless You lighten my heart
I lose my way, unless You guide me
I chose to believe, I chose the God of the Bible
O God, let that be a good choice
Guide me, Lady Wisdom, enlarge my understanding

Eventually my life here must end; let me be full of faith throughout
Lady Wisdom, give me right understanding of Your Word and Your will
Let me delight in following You
Turn me from selfishness to generosity
Turn my eyes from vanities to life in You
Let me live within Your promise
Turn me from the disgrace, the terrible Ds that I dread
Look at me, I want to good, I want to live within Your righteousness

Faithful to Your promise, save me, O God
Let me replace discouragement with trust in You
Let me speak truth, let me know hope
Let me live always within Your grace
Let my mind be freed from doubt and worry
Let me rejoice in my faith
Let me love Your righteousness, Your salvation
Let me love and honor You, let me meditate upon Your righteousness

Give me hope and peace in Your Word
“This is my comfort in my distress, that Your promise gives me life.”
Keep me from arrogance
Let me turn to You, again and again, for comfort
I don’t like myself when I forget You
I sing with joy and find my true home with You
Through my dark night, still I pray to You, O God
Let Your blessings fill my mind, my heart, my life

Help me, I implore You with all my heart
Remember Your promise to me that I may keep my promise to You
That I may always meditate on Your ways
That I may live as You would have me live
Even as I struggle within my own traps
Even in my own dark midnight, let me praise You
I want to be among Your great cloud of witnesses
Teach me to see Your steadfast love everywhere and always

I know You have been generous to me
Lady Wisdom, please bring me good judgment and knowledge
Help me when I wander; bring me back to You
You are good; You are God; You do good; teach me
Do not let my arrogance betray me
Do not let me become careless and complacent
Keep me humble, keep me coming back to You
Because You are better than any wealth or achievement

Just as You made me in Your image, give me Your grace
Let me hope always in Your Word and rejoice
Even my troubles are within Your righteousness
But please let me feel the comfort of Your steadfast love
Please show mercy to me or I will give up
Do not let my own arrogance subvert me from You
Let me be among those who turn to You always
Do not let me forget Your righteousness and goodness

Keep my hope in You, in my salvation, alive
You know how often I doubt and worry
I try to fill my life with You, but too often I fill it with meaningless vapors
How long will I have to fight those terrible Ds
I know it is my own arrogance that gets me in trouble
Your goodness endures, mine comes and goes, help me, please
I keep coming back to You although I wander often and get lost
Please, help me, save me, because of Your steadfast love

Lasting forever, Your Word is firmly fixed everywhere
Your faithfulness to me endures, and is my firm ground
I, with all of creation, am Yours
Without You, I would have sunk in my own misery long ago
You give me life and hope
You save me and make me Your own
On my own, my terrible Ds would destroy me
My best efforts accomplish little; in You alone is perfect help

Mediating on Your reality brings me joy and peace
In You I find truth and grace to overcome my failings
Knowing You is worth more than all my degrees
Years of life add nothing to wisdom and love without You
With You, with Your grace, I can avoid stumbling into evil
I want, I try to live within Your truth
Because within Your words, I find sweetness and strength
Within Your truth, I find comfort and understanding

Now Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path
Again and again I come back to You, to Your light
Again and again I fail: help me, please God
Hear my plea, fill my emptiness with Your grace
I try every day to live as You would have me live
Despite my failings, I do try
In You I find eternal truth and joy
I want to know and live Your truth forever

Oh, God, I hate my double-mindedness
With You and only You, with Your Word is safety
I pray for protection from my worst tendencies
Keep me close, that I may feel life and hope
Hold me close, that I may be safe and love You always
I wander away, into pride and reliance on myself
I trust knowledge rather than You, Lady Wisdom
And so I start to fear You rather than love You

Please do not abandon me to my oppression by depression
Do not let my doubts and disbelief oppress me
But I get so tired of trying to feel saved, trying to believe Your promise
Forget my doubts and be generous in Your steadfast love for me
Grant me Your peace, understanding of Your righteous hope for me
You have to save me, God; you know on my own I fail again and again
Even though I try, even though I love being Your own
Even though I want to live always within Your Word and Your love

Quiet my doubts, O God, with Your wonderful truth
Lighten my darkness with Your Word and Your understanding
I wait, I wait with longing to live easily in Your truth
Treat me as if I love You, even when I doubt You
I depend upon You to keep me from my own failings
I depend upon You to help me live In Your truth and love
Make Your face to shine upon me, and give me Your peace
How sad it makes me to doubt, to forget You, to wander

Righteous are You, my God, merciful and just
Unlike me, You are always righteous and faithful
I try to love You but I defeat myself too often
I try to remember that Your promises, Your love
So often I feel small and despised
When I want to live within Your truth and everlasting righteousness
But trouble and anguish come upon me time and again
Please let me live in Your righteousness, Your love, Your wisdom forever

Save me, O God, help me to live well
Save me, O God, help me to live well
Morning and night, I need Your help, I need my hope in You
Morning and night, I need to pray, I need to seek You
Because of Your steadfast love, Your merciful justice, save me from myself
Thoughts, feelings that persecute me are too close to me, too far from You
And yet, You are always near, always true, even when I doubt and wander
Long ago, as a child, I learned of You, of Your foreverness, of Your reality

Take my misery into account and rescue me

Unwanted thoughts, ungenerous feelings attack me

Verse by Verse, I cry to You, Lady Wisdom, for understanding

Epiphany Sunday

Bitingly cold
Mom moves even more slowly
Than usual

Afternoon mass
In a nursing home’s
Round meeting room
With large windows
It’s light and warm
Even on this freezing day

The priest waits quietly
On a folding chair
At the altar’s side
Small portable altar
Small portable keyboard
Small portable lectern
White linen cloth over the altar
Paten and chalice
Water and wine
Hosts and linens
Candles and altar book
All in place

A simple mass begins
We sing We Three Kings
Everyone stays seated throughout
Mostly elderly residents
Some with family members
Walkers and wheelchairs
Cracking, catching voices
Wandering attention
Long lives lived
Who knows how
To bring them here
To this home, this time
This mass, this community

Mass continues
Readings, prayers, familiar hymns
Then the words of consecration
“This is my body”
Elevation of the host
Someone coughs
“This is my blood”
Elevation of the chalice
The highly polished gold chalice
And I see
I see the room and the people
Reflected
Reflected on the cup of the chalice
Like a wide angle lens
The chalice captures and holds us all
Together
Imprinted shining
On the golden chalice

We are so lucky
We do not have to follow
A strange star
To an unknown destination
God comes to us
Where we are
Gathers us in
A shining community

A reflection
A revelation
An epiphany