Lectio THEN: Psalm 9 (June 9, 2009) New Jerusalem Bible
“My enemies are in retreat, they stumble and perish at your presence.”
My enemies being, in my case, my own thoughts – the thoughts that plague me with worry, anxiety and dread. I had a glimpse of that yesterday, of God’s presence. Not answers, just presence, and that was so restful and reassuring. I’ve been wanting answers now and because I haven’t heard what I’m wanting to hear, I’ve had a hard time being aware of God’s presence.
And how true this passage is – that my thoughts which are deathly to my spirit are driven back by the presence of God! “Pull me back from the gates of death.”
I imagine the scene from The Little Mermaid (the Disney movie version) when Ariel goes to Ursula the sea witch to be made into a human. She swims into a cave and the souls enslaved by Ursula appear like worms that, at least as I am remembering them now, try to drag Ariel down and imprison her there, too. Geez! In her desperate attempt to get the answers she wants she’s willing to go in there are risk losing her soul!
Pull me back from the gates of death, O Lord! Lead me back to open water where I may swim freely, trusting in you. Somehow I think by going into the cave of worry and dread that I can take those things head on and figure everything out for myself when I’m not hearing what I want from you. But that is only death for me. Help me to remember your presence, to recall your presence to my awareness, which will force my anxiety and dread to retreat, stumble and perish. Your presence is sufficient. In your presence, all is well.
Lectio: Psalm 9 (October 18, 2010) NJB
“I recount all your wonders”
Today I am struggling to remember the definition of gratitude. And that makes me feel like such a jerk. How fleeting utter convictions of faith can be! Do I really believe all that stuff I profess when I’m in a better mood — if we can even say that it is a ‘mood’? Or am I just carried away by a sense of moral uprightness and emotional (chemical?) well-being?
Ugh. The grit of life. I suppose if I were an artist (or a contemplative) I would relish stuff like this, and be convinced that I’m supposed to really feel down to the depth of it and it’s part of the glory of being human, or something like that. But I don’t. I want to be happy. All the time. I know I say nice things about really being present in each moment of life, accepting both the good and the bad as a gift from God, etc, etc… But it doesn’t feel so good to feel so bad. I’ve been praying for a job for months. I’m doing all the “right” things. And it’s not like I’m being picky. I’ve applied for everything. But nothing.
“I recount all your wonders” I read, and then give a little snort. “That won’t take too long”, I think to myself. “Ungrateful, little punk!” the other part of my self says. And that part of me knows with utter certainty that God has always provided, always at the right moment, and many times in ways I could have never seen coming, and it’s always been great. And I wish that I would have kept better track of those times and those moments, for times and moments like this. I could pull out my little list, read through it, and feel better.
But I don’t have said list. And maybe that’s for the best because I suspect that the desired effect could not be achieved by reading over a prepared list. I have to do it now, while I feel crappy. And I’m a little inspired by the acrostic of this psalm, in a campy kind of way, to write my own acrostic version, to count my blessings and “name them one by one” as the hymn goes.
I don’t know how to conjure up this feeling of gratitude, but I suppose if it came in a pill that would have been done already. And something inside of me says that I’m not supposed to ‘conjure’ it out of thin air, but that it is a thing to be worked at and developed, like anything else worth having or being.