Thursday, June 25, 2015

Psalm Twentythreed: Being Formed by Psalm 23

For several years I have incorporated Psalm 23 into my morning prayers and throughout the day in an attempt to root my thoughts, feelings and choices in God’s care. It has been indispensable in helping me find healing and hope for deep layers of abandonment, fear, anger and shame.

As I have grown in praying this prayer, I have also grown in appreciation of what I would call the “semantic range” of praying the Scriptures (semantic range = what a word can mean, based on context). I have read, prayed and incorporated a variety of translations of Psalm 23, filling up a well of images and metaphors that no one translation could capture.

This is my loose adaptation for my morning prayer, involving phrases and imagery also from Psalms 16 and 27. I try to pray simpler versions throughout the day, but this more expanded version primes the pump, allowing me to move toward greater prayerfulness. 

I spaced out phrases where I typically pause or emphasize. I hope it blesses you as you seek to anchor your heart and mind in God’s Kingdom, where each of us can be safe and satisfied.

The Lord is good, and his mercy endures forever.
The Lord is my good Shepherd;
Yahweh, the GREAT I AM, is the one who personally cares for me.

I shall not want,
I lack nothing,
I have everything I need,
right here, right now.

He beds me down in lush green meadows,
He leads me beside still quiet waters of rest and provision.

He restores and refreshes my torn and weary soul.
He restores,
He refreshes,
my torn, weary and anxious soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness, peace and joy
for his name’s sake and for my good;

Although this path often leads through darkness,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me
You are for me.

Nothing can happen to me that is not redeemable by love;
nothing that meets me today can separate me
from your great, tender and pervasive love.

Come, Lord, penetrate and intertwine yourself
within the fibers of my heart, mind, body and soul
so that I would know you, the only true God,
and Jesus my Master whom you sent,
and that I would know myself as one deeply loved and pleasing to you,
never alone,
never alone.

You prepare for me a feasting table, right under the nose of my enemies;
even behind enemy lines, Lord, your abundance surrounds me.

Help me receive it with thanks and to live a thankful life,
an inviting life even toward those who use me and dislike me.
Thank you for my life, and all the relationships and experiences
that have made me who I am right here, right now.

You anoint my head with oil,
you kiss my forehead with grace
until my cup overflows.

You are my portion and my cup,
The Lord is what I have in life and is the one who sustains me,
you hold me safe and sound,
my life and body rest secure;
Gushing fountains of endless LIFE are always within my reach,
because the Lord is my Shepherd

Surely your goodness and faithful love
will never fail to pursue and overtake me,
surround, saturate and satisfy me
all the days of my life, all the moments of my day,
drawing me up into your life and your house
making it my home forever.

May this life, this body, be our shared habitation.

By your gracious invitation,
and my conscious intention as your disciple,
I will dwell with you in your house
my whole life long.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Heaving Wait

What mysteries visit in the dark
when knowing and loving fail
and joy is forgotten?

I’m tempted to conclude
amidst the heaving wait
that darkness will utter the final word
that doom shall consume
that all I’ve ever feared
will become true

But if I wait
for the heaving to do its work
until my hands hang limp
and my knees give way
fall to a calming quiet

As I wait there
powerless and oddly safe

as pure gift
the dawn breaks