Psalm 46: Secret Stream

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 16, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 46 which celebrates the felt assurance of God’s presence no matter surrounding circumstances.

God is our refuge and our strength,
    an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
    and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 46: 2-3

That kind of faith is pretty amazing! It’s easy to celebrate God when things are going well – but earth shaking and mountains plunging? That’s something else. What’s the secret to that kind of faith?


Such believers seem to have found the “stream”:

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
    the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
    God will help it at the break of dawn.

Psalm 46: 4-5

In her “Four Waters of Prayer”, St. Teresa of Ávila describes how we find this stream. Imagine your soul as a garden that needs to be nourished by prayer.

  • The first way to nourish it is like drawing water from a well. It is a very active kind of prayer in which we use our faculties to come closer to God.
  • The second way is like a water-wheel. As we accustom ourselves to prayer, it becomes easier to enter a sacred space.
  • The third way is a stream. It is the point in our spiritual lives where prayer, awareness of God, flows throughout our day.
  • The Fourth Water is the prayer of ecstasy when we are filled with and by God as by a luxuriant rain.

You can read St. Teresa’s descriptions here. The language is that of the 16th century but the wisdom is eternal. 


Poetry: Poem for St. John of the Cross by Lisa Zimmerman

 In the dark night of the soul,
bright flows the river of God

John of the Cross
Saint John of the Cross,
Your father married for love
an orphan below his noble station.
Discarded by his wealthy kindred
they say your parents nurtured you in poverty—
and the bread was as sweet as any bread

and the days offered their shiny hands
and their little streams of water
singing in the glades.

I see you wandering happily as a boy,
the sun a crown on your small head,
your bare feet scuffing the dust.
God chirped like a wood lark
in the throat of afternoon
and the lonely months in prison
were far ahead beneath the great shadow
of the future.

I try to follow you there, O mystic,
to watch you defy your greedy brethren
monks who will reject your reforms, your love
of less, of days returned to prayer and fasting.

Fat and threatened, they silenced you
in a narrow stone cell, one tiny window
like the one in the soul where day after day
the voice of God pierced your suffering.

Out of emptiness, a full heart—
out of abandonment, a poem of seeking—
out of utter darkness, a gleam of pure light—
love’s last trembling boat waiting for you
to get in, and row.

Music: Streams in the Desert – Abigail Miller

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s