Psalm 19: The Law

Third Sunday of Lent

March 7, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19.

Those of you who click through to our daily readings on the USCCB website may notice that two sets of readings are offered for this 3rd Sunday in Lent. The alternative set is for a Mass which incorporates “The Scrutinies”.

“The Scrutinies” are part of the process of admitting adults into the Catholic Church which typically takes place throughout Lent and culminates in Easter Baptism. 

There are several steps in the admission process beginning with discernment and in-depth education. The Scrutinies occur near the end, during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. As the name indicates, these exercises have us look deep into our hearts and souls for the healing and forgiveness we need in faith.


However, most of us attending this Sunday’s liturgy will hear the Year B readings which center on LAW and how our developing faith understands it.


For the ancient Israelites, as Exodus tells us, that understanding took the form of a specified discipline in the Ten Commandments.

For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, 
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness 
on the children of those who reproach me …

Exodus 20:5

In our second reading, Paul preaches a new understanding of Law – the Law of Sacrificial Love revealed in the sacred contradiction of Cross.

… but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1: 23-25

And in our Gospel, Jesus confronts those whose faith is hardened against the new Law which he embodies:

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 
many began to believe in his name 
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

John 2:23-25

Our psalm offers us an opportunity to “scrutinize” the sincerity of this prayer in our own hearts:


Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire Gerard Manley Hopkins sees the law as acting in God’s eye…

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves–goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells,
Crying _Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is–
Chríst–for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Music: The Law of the Lord is Perfect

Psalm 103: #BeLike

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

March 6, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, an effusive canticle on God’s unbounded Mercy.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
    and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits.
He pardons all your iniquities,
    he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
    he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

Psalm 103:1-4

A sufficient prayer today would be to thank God for our experiences of this overflowing mercy. But our Gospel tells us there is more to it. There is a response required of us.


If you’re into social media like Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed the popular meme “BeLike”.  (A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that becomes a fad and spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture, often carrying a symbolic meaning.) Here is an example of the  #BeLike meme posted by the NJ State Police.


If our psalmist and evangelist were writing a meme for today’s readings, it might look like this:


That’s the message.
I’m spending my prayer time with just that today.


Poetry: The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God by Allison Frank

When he returned a second time,
the straps of his sandals broken,
his robe stained with wine,

it was not as easy to forgive.

By then his father
was long gone himself,
leaving me with my other son, the sullen one
whose anger is the instrument he tunes
from good morning on.

I know.

There’s no room for a man
in the womb.

But when I saw my youngest coming from far off,
so small he seemed, a kid
unsteady on its legs.

She-goat
what will you do? I thought,
remembering when he learned to walk.

Shape shifter! It’s like looking through water—
the heat bends, it blurs everything: brush, precipice.

A shambles between us.

Music: Father, I Have Sinned – Eugene O’Reilly

Psalm 79: Prisoners

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

March 1, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 79, marked in some translations as “A Prayer for Jerusalem”. The psalm is also considered one of the “Sad Songs of Zion” which lament the destruction of the Temple and the ensuing Babylonian Captivity.

We might compare the context for Psalm 79 to what Americans felt on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. All serenity, confidence, and trust were shattered. The world was broken and we didn’t know if it could be mended.


Praying Psalm 79, I think of the experience of prisoners – prisoners of all kinds. I think of those whose bodies are in jail, and of those whose minds, hearts and souls are similarly confined. Their worlds have been broken, as has their victim’s, even if the victim was themselves.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
    with your great power free those doomed to death.

Psalm 79:11

I think how our crimes, or addictions, or hateful prejudices – or whatever shape our sinfulness takes – eventually incarcerate us.

And I think of James.


I remember being presented with the “opportunity”. I was about 12 years old and I hero-worshipped my 7th grade teacher, Sister Helen Carmel, SSJ. But I wasn’t so sure about what she was inviting us to do.

Sister had a list of prisoners in Eastern State Penitentiary. She painted a picture of them as lonely and often abandoned people who needed prayers and kindness. She wondered if some of us might like to take a prisoner as a pen pal.

Now, I’ll be honest, the last thing I wanted was a prisoner pen pal! I was becoming a teenager! I wanted new ice skates, an A on my math test, and Jimmy Danvers to hold my hand and treat me to pizza some Friday night.

But because I loved Sister Helen Carmel like a second mother, I got a pen pal. And, maybe because she loved me like a daughter, she gave me a doozie: James, who was on death row.

James and I corresponded occasionally for about three years until he wrote to say there would be no more letters. He didn’t say why, but I knew his time had come either for release or execution. I never learned which. I didn’t want to.


Around the time that James and I corresponded, a teenage girl was brutally raped and murdered, her ravaged body left in the mud of Fairmount Park. 

She went to Catholic high school like I did! She was a teenager like I was! She liked movies and friends and Friday nights like I did! I realized that what had happened to her could have happened to me! Her name, Mary Anne, was perpetually sealed in my mind. When her killer was apprehended and eventually sentenced to death, I was glad. 

But because of James, my gladness was conflicted. These two men have fought a tug of war in my soul ever since. 

Does a human being ever really forfeit the right to life because of their heinous actions? Does society ever have the right to take a life in retribution for crime? I still struggle with the feelings these questions generate. I have spent decades trying to learn how to change my heart from a retributive to a restorative model of justice.

It doesn’t just happen. It takes prayer, education, and right choices. It has taken me the help of more enlightened spirits like St. Joseph Sister Helen Prejean  and Mercy Sister Mary Healy.


Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the Church is firmly committed
to calling for its abolition worldwide.

Pope Francis

The Pope has revised the Catechism
of the Roman Catholic Church to state that, 
“The death penalty is an attack
on the inviolability and dignity of the person
that is inadmissible in all cases.”

As we pray with Psalm 79 today, may we have the charity and courage to pray for condemned prisoners, their victim’s beloveds, and for a society that can create effective reform to heal the root causes of major crime.

Help us, O God our savior,
    because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
  for your name’s sake.

Psalm 79:9

No poem today. Some music though: The Prisoners’ Chorus from Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio”

Psalm 116: Listen!

Second Sunday of Lent

February 28, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 116 which Pope John Paul II called “A Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Lord”.

Praying the psalm today, in the context of our other Sunday readings, leads us deeper into the nature of that “thanksgiving” and its relationship to sacrifice.

Abraham and Isaac by Rembrandt

In our first reading, we meet Abraham, full of thanks that God reconsidered the command to sacrifice his dear son.


But then our second reading expresses thanks that God was willing to sacrifice his own Son for our sakes.

The Transfiguration by Titian

Finally, our Gospel takes us to the Transfiguration where that Son who will be sacrificed is revealed in his true glory.

What is the thread binding these readings? I think it can be found in this Gospel verse:

This is my beloved Son.  
Listen to him.

True listening is obedience. The words come from the same root: obedience = listen to,” from ob “to” + audire “listen, hear”.

  • Abraham listens, no matter how hard, and finally hears God’s real command to love.
  • Jesus listens to the Will of the Father even through his suffering, and is led to Resurrection.
  • We, like Peter, James and John, are called to listen to Jesus who will transfigure our perceptions about what life is really calling us to.

In each case, intent “obedience” allows the listener to hear and see beneath circumstances to the deeper Grace beyond appearances. Deep spiritual listening transfigures us!

This is the whole point of the spiritual life. Our lives are so much more than mere circumstances or appearance. Our psalm calls us to believe this even in difficulty:

I believed, even when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted.”
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
    is the death of his faithful ones.

Psalm 116:10

When we do this, we are freed to engage our lives at the level of God’s Will which is always for our good, which is always from Love. The long tradition of faith, learned from our forbearers, assures us of this:

O LORD, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the child of your faithful ones;
    you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:16-17

Some of us go through life continually angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed by our challenges. Others, experiencing similar or even greater challenges, reflect a spirit of joy, peace, and gratitude. Why is that? I think today’s readings give us a big clue. Let’s listen to them!


Poetry: Story of Isaac, written and chanted by the bard Leonard Cohen who also wrote the currently popular “Hallelujah “.


Music: Psalm 116: Steve Green

Lyrics

I love the Lord, He heard my voice
He heard my voice. He heard my voice
He heard my cry for mercy
Because He has turned His ear to me
I will call (I will call)
I will call (I will call)
I will call on the Lord for as long as I live

I love the Lord, He heard my voice
He heard my voice. He heard my voice
He heard my cry
I love the Lord, He heard my voice
He heard my voice. He heard my voice
He heard my cry for mercy
He heard my cry for mercy

Psalm 119: DiliGENTLY

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

February 27, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our familiar Psalm 119. Because it is the longest of the Psalms, there is plenty of material for its frequent use.


But sometimes, when things are frequent and familiar, they can also become “humdrum”. Our prayers, especially repeated vocal prayers such as those we say at Mass, can become veiled in monotony.


Thinking of this, I read Psalm 119 with new eyes today, looking for a dynamic word to pop out and speak to me. And here it was:

You have commanded that your precepts
    be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
    of keeping your statutes!

Psalm 119: 4-5

Diligently” – it is a wonderful word that suggests a range of attitudes we should hold in the Presence of God.

The word is derived from the Latin diligere: “to single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate”.

The psalmist suggests that God wants us to esteem and love God’s Word in a singular manner – that we should pay sharp attention, prize, and develop a deep appreciation for God’s precepts.


Our careful engagement of the Word of God must be delicate and gentle, as the root of “diligently” implies. We might imagine careful fingers peeling ripe fruit so delicately that nothing is lost of its pulp or juice.

In our daily prayer, we then savor that sweetness over and over, releasing its eternal meaning into the circumstances of our lives, feeding our spirits with its graces.

I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
    when I have learned your just ordinances.

Psalm 119:7

Poetic Advice: Taken from “The Journey of the Mind to God” by St. Bonaventure (1221–1274)

Do not assume that mere
Reading will suffice without fervor,
Speculation without devotion,
Investigation without admiration,
Observation without exaltation,
Industry without piety,
Knowledge without love,
Understanding without humility,
Study without divine grace.

Music: Wonderful Words of Life – Philip Bliss, 1874.
This is a lesser known hymn by the prolific Bliss who also composed the music for the more popular “It Is Well with My Soul”.

Psalm 130: The Depths

Friday of the First Week of Lent

February 26, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 130, the De Profundis. This is a transformative prayer whose power we may not fully realize.

Have you ever been disappointed with God? Have you ever let God know it in your prayer? 

Psalm 130 is the psalmist’s complaint to God that things are as bad as they can get and God doesn’t appear to care. It is a plea – even a demand- for God to pay attention and do something. (See my poem, sent a little later, called “These Things”.)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
    LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to my voice in supplication.


But Psalm 130 is not just a private complaint. As well as being a penitential psalm, 130 is marked as a “Psalm of Ascent”. This means that it was sung by the community as they went to the Temple to worship.

Psalm 130 carries the tone of a national or global lament. It has the feeling of a deeply bruised people bearing a desperate hope mixed with some bewilderment. It is a feeling we all recognize.

Remembrance of Lives Lost to Covid 19

Yesterday in my neighborhood, we had our first hint of spring weather. On a short walk, I met a few people whose winter-weary eyes, above their masks, held a spark of resurrection hope.

With distribution of COVID vaccines, hope for deliverance from the pandemic surfaces like a tentative bud. We are starting the slow ascent from the depths we have all shared. We are on our way to the temple of thanksgiving and praise.


But Psalm 130 reminds that, on that ascent, fully voicing our lament is imperative for true healing. In reference to the pandemic, and to any other devastation we face in life, we must be honest with God about our fear, confusion, sadness, hopelessness, and shaken faith … about our disappointment in God, our splintered expectations which need healing.

If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
    LORD, who can stand?

It is only by asking God how these things – whatever they might be – could be allowed to happen to us, or to any of God’s beloved, that we will open ourselves to the Divine answer – a mystery too deep for words.

I trust you, LORD;
    my soul trusts in your word.
My soul waits for you
    more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
    Let me wait for the LORD.

Such prayer heals, leading us to a deeper, truer relationship with God.

For with the LORD is kindness
    and plenteous redemption;
And the Lord will redeem Israel
    from all their suffering and sin.

Poetry: Spring – Mary Oliver

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her 
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against 
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming 
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness, 
her perfect love.

Music: Pié Jesu – Michael Hoppé

Psalm 138: Favors Received

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

February 25, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 138, an ardent thanksgiving for favors received.

Lord, on the day I called for help,
you answered me.

Psalm 138:3
Queen Esther by Andrea del Castagno – 15th C.

The psalm today reflects back to our first reading from the Book of Esther. The “favor received” in that story is a monumental one: saving the Jewish people from extinction. This deliverance is commemorated on the Jewish Feast of Purim which, coincidental to our liturgical reading, is celebrated this year on February 25th.


 Reflecting on “favors received”, we might be moved to thank God for the blessings in our lives. Some blessings are evident from the get-go. But some come initially wrapped in challenge, worry, even anguish:

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, 
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. 
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.

Esther C: 12-16

What is it that changes these darknesses into Light? Psalm 138 offers us this clue:

When I called, you answered me;
    you built up strength within me.
    Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
    your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
    forsake not the work of your hands.

Psalm 138: 3,7-8

Certainly a positive outcome to our prayer, like Esther’s, allows us to see a blessing. But what about the times when the outcome disappoints or even devastates us?

The answer has something to do with spiritual “strength”, with a long faith like Esther’s. She puts her hope in the Lord and waits for the answer to unfold even at the risk of her life.

Trusting God like this means that we believe in God’s bigger picture for us and for all that we love. 

  • It means that, by faith, we live partly in the eternal world we cannot yet see. 
  • It means that the quintessential things of our heart and soul exist beyond time, in the unbounded love of God.
  • It means that we trust God to complete all things in lavish mercy.

The LORD is with me to the end.
LORD, your Mercy endures forever.
Never forsake the work of your hands!

Psalm 138: 7-8

That kind of faith won’t just pop up when we are in trouble. It has to be ingrained – the very fabric of our lives, knitted there by the prayerful surrender of our daily lives to God’s amazing Grace.


Poetry: Rock of My Salvation BY MORDECAI BEN ISAAC
TRANSLATED BY SOLOMON SOLIS-COHEN

Mighty, praised beyond compare,
Rock of my salvation,
Build again my house of prayer,
For Thy habitation!
Offering and libation, shall a ransomed nation
Joyful bring
There, and sing
Psalms of Dedication!

Woe was mine in Egypt-land,
(Tyrant kings enslaved me);
Till Thy mighty, out-stretched Hand
From oppression saved me.
Pharaoh, rash pursuing, vowed my swift undoing—
Soon, his host
That proud boast
’Neath the waves was rueing!

To Thy Holy Hill, the way
Madest Thou clear before me;
With false gods I went astray—
Foes to exile bore me.
Torn from all I cherished, almost had I perished—
Babylon fell,
   Ze-ru-ba-bel
Badest Thou to restore me!

Then the vengeful Haman wrought
Subtly, to betray me;
In his snare himself he caught—
He that plann’d to slay me.
(Hauled from Esther’s palace; hanged on his own gallows!)
Seal and ring
Persia’s king
Gave Thy servant zealous.

When the brave Asmonéans broke
Javan’s chain in sunder,
Through the holy oil, Thy folk
Didst Thou show a wonder—
Ever full remained the vessel unprofanèd;
These eight days,
Lights and praise,
Therefore were ordainèd.

Lord, Thy Holy Arm make bare,
Speed my restoration;
Be my martyr’s blood Thy care—
Judge each guilty nation.
Long is my probation; sore my tribulation—
Bid, from Heaven,
Thy shepherds seven
Haste to my salvation!

Music: Rock of My Salvation – Maranatha Music

Psalm 34: Together

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

February 23, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, thought to be a young David’s thanksgiving prayer after God saved him from one of his many dangerous escapades.

In telling his deliverance story, David invites his friends to celebrate with him and to learn the faith-lesson he has learned:

Glorify the LORD with me,
    let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears. 


I picture myself sitting in David’s audience, absorbing the words of his prayer. This line strikes me:

The LORD has eyes for the just,
    and ears for their cry.

Ah, the Lord has eyes for me….for ME! It conjures up sounds of The Flamingos, doesn’t it? (Sorry for the transcriber’s misspelling 😀)

Most of us want to think that we are individually special to God. This desire is at the core of the Protestant Evangelical model, “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. But for some, this model has become confused with a prosperity gospel that is quite misleading.

The only prosperity we should seek from God is the gift of grace because:

Yahweh’s peculiar inclinations are with the broken-hearted and the ones with crushed spirit. That is, Yahweh’s solidarity is not with the ones who go from success to success, but the ones denied success.

Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary Ausberg Publishing House 1984

Still, such a personal relationship is not alien to a full and complete faith:

Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 2009

(Look for an extra prayer about “The Eye of God” in another post today.)


However, our psalm alerts us that this deeply personal dimension is only part of relationship with God.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
    and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
   and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

To be seen and heard by God, one must be part of the just community. To be close to God, one must feel the brokenheartedness of the poor. We come to the psalmist’s exuberant praise only by walking with suffering, either in our own lives, or beside others who bear distress.

From all their distress
God rescues the just.

Psalm 34 teaches us that our personal relationship with God is interdependent with our relationship with the whole community. David calls his community to share in his praise-song because they- together -recognize God’s mercy and share it in concern for one another.

The LORD has eyes for the just,
    and ears for their cry.


Our Gospel today confirms that a personal love for God thrives only within a communal love. The prayer Jesus shares is not “My Father”. It is “Our Father”. We come to the depths of God’s merciful heart with our sisters and brothers.


Poetry: An Inclusive Lord’s Prayer – Author unknown

Loving God, 
in whom is heaven, 
may Your name be honored everywhere.
May Your Mercy reign.
May the desire of Your heart for the world 
be done, 
in us, by us and through us.
Give us each and all
the bread we need for the day.
Forgive us.
Free us to forgive others.
Keep us from all anxiety, fear, and selfishness.
For You reign in the power that comes from love 
which is Your glory
forever and ever.
Amen.

Music: Our Father – Joe Wise

Psalm 25: Grace through Prisms

First Sunday of Lent

February 21, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, a prayer full of humility, thanksgiving, and hope.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
    teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my savior.

Psalm 25: 4-5

Genesis 9:12

On this First Sunday of Lent, the psalm is set between the wonderful Noah story, its interpretation by Peter, and the proclamation of Christ’s redemptive mission.

Like Noah, humankind has come through the storm of an ages-long messianic longing. Jesus is the Rainbow rising out of that darkness. His Light passes into us through the prismed waters of our Baptism. Indeed, as our Psalm declares:

Good and upright is the LORD,
    showing sinners the way.
God guides the humble to justice,
    and teaches the humble the godly way.

Psalm 25: 8-9

When our psalmist first begins to pray, the light within seems shadowed and the vibrancy of his soul perhaps fractured. At times, we have felt the same way. 

But the psalmist’s sincere and humble prayer catches God’s Light, allowing the passage from shadows to to the full rainbow of Mercy. May it be so for all of us as well as we journey with Jesus through Lent.

Poetry: on a separate post today due to its length — but so worth the time to read and savor.


Music: Rainbow by Robert Plant – Let God sing this song to you, perhaps the way God sang in Noah’s heart when he was delivered from the flood.

I found a lucky charm
I dressed it up with love
I crossed the Seven Seas to you
Will it be enough?

And I will be a rainbow
Oh, now your storm is gone
And I will bring the song for you
And I will carry on
Ooh Ooh Ooh
Ooh Ooh Ooh

I'm reachin' for the stars
In the sky above
Oh, I will bring their beauty home
The colors of my love

And I will be a rainbow
Now your storm is gone
And I will bring my song to you
And I will carry on
(Hummed interlude)

Love is enough
Though the world be a wind
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining

My hands shall not tremble, my feet shall not falter
The voyage shall not weary, the fish shall not alter
Hmm, It's rainbow, oh it's rainbow
Oh, can't you see the eyes are the eyes of a lover

Pocket full of hearts
A world that's filled with love
A love that carries all before
The passion and the flood

I lie beneath the rainbow
Now your tears have gone
And I will sing my song for you
And I will carry on
(Repeated interlude)

Psalm 86: Lean to Me, Lord

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

February 20, 2021


INCLINE!

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 86, a very personal prayer. The kingdom, the nation, the people are not mentioned. It is a plea from one aching heart to its merciful God.

Each one of us has been that person on occasion. We may not have employed the exact words of Psalm 86, but we have prayed its sentiments in our own way.

HARKEN!

For me, that prayer is grounded in two powerful verbs, intimate requests made to a God Who might otherwise seem distant in our times of trouble.

Incline and Harken

Let’s just walk and talk with our listening God today. Feel God bend near to listen. Listen in return.


Poetry: Listen, can you hear it? by Rabindranath Tagore

Listen, can you hear it?
God’s bamboo flute speaks
the pure language of love.
The moon enlightens the trees,
the path, the sinuous River.

Oblivious of the jasmine's scent
I stagger around,
disheveled heart bereft of modesty,
eyes wet with angst and delight.

Tell me, dear friend, say it aloud:
is God not my own Dark Lord?
Is it not my name God’s flute pours
into the empty evening?

For eons I longed for God,
I yearned to know the Holy One.
That's why God has come to me now,
deep emerald Lord of my breath.

O Lord, whenever your faraway flute thrills
through the dark, I say your name,
only your name, and will my body to dissolve
in your luminous River.

Hear me, Lord, in this moment.
What's stopping you?
The earth drowns in sleep.
Let's go. I'll walk with you, talk with you.

Music: O Lord, Hear My Prayer – Taize