Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, August 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 81, and today’s verses sound a little harsh. The Lord seems a bit fed up with Israel’s hungers:

My people heard not my voice,
    and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
    they walked according to their own counsels.

Psalm 81:12-13

Translated to 21st century jargon that verse might sound like this:

I love them and all, but come on!
    They don’t follow my advice;
so the heck with their stubbornness.
    Let them stew in their own juices!

Renee’s unofficial imaginings 🙂

But see, here’s the thing. God is never like that with us. God is, instead, everlastingly patient with us. God stays with us until we – hopefully – respond to Grace.

And don’t we sometimes really test God’s patience! Moses was great at it — pushing and pushing for God to make things easier for him. 

I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
so that I need no longer face this distress.

Numbers 11:14-15

Picture Moses standing in front of God, hands on hips yelling, “I’ve had it! Why not just kill me now?!?!”

The verse actually makes me chuckle because I also picture God, smothering a smile at Moses’s tantrum, and thinking, “Maybe some quail will settle this guy down for the long haul.”

Today’s psalm and reading from Numbers remind us that each of our lives is an unfolding journey in relationship with God. It is a journey that requires us to listen and respond over and over again. At each response we move ever deeper into the heart of God, letting go of those things which impede us from our destination.

If only my people would hear me,
    and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
    against their foes I would turn my hand.

Psalm 81: 14-15

God is our help
and is ALWAYS present with us.
If we can listen to our deep lives,
we will know that
and our spirits will sing.

Poetry: Moses by Alan Kanfer

Whatever residue of pride adhere
To eyes, to bones, to hair will shed like sand
When we discover the The Name is near
And fire is Light, and we are asked to stand.
That night my hair was like a fell of sheep,
My bones like water, I was weak and dumb:
My perfume reeked like camp whores that we keep.
I stood, receiving “I am that I am.”
How small the distance is between the root
And flower: the Name is near as our consent,
As our denial. Coming up the hill on foot
Long after, knowing we must be content
With shadow of The Name, I shed my will
But not my love: the final miracle.

Music: Frangeti – George Winston

Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 81, a jubilant call to remember and celebrate our relationship with God.

Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
    the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our solemn feast.

And this is to be done periodically and regularly as the reading from Leviticus so clearly stipulates. Each new effort at such praise renews us, gives us a fresh chance on our faith journey, and calls us more deeply to our part in the faithful community.

As young nuns, we were introduced to the practice of Retreat Sunday. The first Sunday of each month was a day of complete silence and prayer. I loved it! Many of us still practice it. It’s a chance to “Blow the trumpet at the new moon”, a revitalizing of our soul’s focus and our heart’s devotion.

I know many of my very busy readers – moms and dads and essential workers – just wish they could spend a whole Sunday in quiet prayer! But I hope you can find at least some time, on a regular basis, to give your soul this gift.

Instead of a poem:

Some extra music today: the trumpet highlight from Mahler’s Blumine. The Blumine movement was originally one of seven pieces of incidental music composed by Mahler in “two days” during June 1884, for a performance of Joseph Victor von Scheffel’s play Der Trompeter von Säkkingen (“The Trumpeter of Säkkingen”). The Blumine movement in the symphony contains little or no revisions from the original version, including its orchestration which utilises only a small section of the full symphonic orchestra which is used more fully in the other movements. The Andante movement begins and ends with a lyrical cantilena for the trumpet. August Beer described it as “a heartfelt, rapturous trumpet melody that alternates with melancholy song on the oboe. (Wikipedia)

Music: The reading from Leviticus made me think how all leaders describe their perfect kingdom and set the rules to achieve it. The song that came to mind is “Camelot”, where King Arthur pours out his hope for a beautiful world.

Certainly it’s not a religious song, but I think it is a spiritual one. Not only does it describe a perfect Creation, it – like Leviticus – tells us to remember our first hope so that we keep it alive. Of course, the fictional Camelot ended through human infidelity but our sacred “Camelot” endures eternally.