Lectio THEN: Psalm 4 (June 4, 2009) New Jerusalem Bible
“you have set me at large”
My tendency, when my patience runs out in waiting for something, is that as I wait, I get more and more antsy, anxious and distressed. I cannot sleep and am consumed with worry.
In those times, I feel like a child who has a melt down or temper tantrum and goes tearing off, out of the parent’s grasp, toward destruction. I even wonder if God’s “anger” could be understood as mirroring – the way my mom got down on the floor with me when I was little and started kicking and screaming to show me what I looked like when I was throwing a fit.
But I imagine that if I start kicking and screaming now, God is not going to hold me against my will. God will let me go, as I chase after one thing, then another, in my desperate search for answers.
But “it is you, Yahweh, and none other, who make me rest secure.” And as I want to know “are we there yet?” I can imagine you saying “we’re on our way.”
God, help me to put all of my trust in your provision and love. Help me to cling on to you like a young child to a parent. Help me to follow the light from your face, and not bolt off aimlessly like a wild horse when spooked.
Lectio NOW: Psalm 4 (September 30, 2010) NJB
“for it is you and none other, Yahweh, who make me rest secure.”
I made that phone call yesterday and went to the soup kitchen this morning. So it’s no surprise that I continue to read from the context of hunger and homelessness. Even more so as last night we had a substantial storm here in Atlanta, and I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of those who were trying to sleep outside and getting wet. No resting there. Definitely no security.
One man I talked with this morning told us briefly of how some of his things were stolen recently, and a woman I was working with told him how remarkable it was that he was still so cheerful. He said, “oh, it happens all the time out here. If they asked, I’d just tell ‘em to come down here and get whatever they needed.”
Needs. And wants. And what of my ‘securities’? Are they needs or wants? Or both mixed up somehow?
It seems to me that the things that are meant to make me feel safe, secure, and comforted, in actuality are the things I’m most anxious about and spend a lot of energy thinking and worrying about. What do I tend to obsessively think about? In a word, food.
But that doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve never had to go without food, or even been close to it. My family has always had an abundance of food, and always welcomed friends and guests at the table. Where did this insecurity about food come from?
The irony is that while I’m always so worried about having enough, we waste so much. And I feel so incredibly guilty when I’m dumping food that has gone bad in the garbage can or down the disposal. At the same time I start feeling nervous when I’m about to run out of something, even to the point of not using the last little bit, just so we won’t run out.
I get bored with the leftovers. They’re perfectly good, but not what I’m “in the mood for”. If I make something that isn’t earth-shatteringly, phenomenally delicious, my reaction is just “meh”, and I don’t want to eat the rest of it.
Most of the time, cooking and eating aren’t about hunger for me. I derive an immense amount of pleasure from cooking for others and feeding others, and from eating delicious food myself. I love dinner parties, where I can serve others and provide a comfortable, enjoyable time of fellowship and refreshment.
But something somewhere seems to have gotten a bit skewed with me and food. Eating is a necessity. Hospitality is a virtue. Sharing the bread and the cup are, depending on your faith tradition, an ordinance or a sacrament.
There was something right about lunch today though. I sat next to the man whom I told on Sunday that I’d be praying for him. We talked a little more and shared a little more. He told me that the only reason he stood up to ask for prayer was because I did, and he could see that someone else would understand his pain. And the simple bowl of vegetable soup that I was eating was immensely satisfying, and my prayer became verse seven of this psalm “Yahweh, to my heart you are a richer joy than all their corn and new wine”.
There are things buried deep in my psyche, in all of our psyches, which we may never understand. I don’t know what causes me to associate a pantry filled with dried beans with security. But I know that it can’t give me true security, “for it is you and none other, Yahweh, who make me rest secure” (verse 8). When we share our bread, and when we share our lives in honest and vulnerable ways, that’s where God is, and that’s where we find true security.
God, help me to fulfill my needs for security in ways that bring people together, rather than in retrenching and hoarding for myself.