To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.....that is the beginning of one of the readings for today - Psalm 25: 1-10. What a wonderful description of what I need to happen every morning - lifting up my soul to God.
I read the three readings and realize how easy it is to live with our souls downcast or flat. As I begin this day with three readings (Psalm 25, Daniel 9 and 1 John 1: 3-10) I recognize that it is my faith - my relationship with God - that elevates my life into something greater than just ME.
The Daniel reading is Daniels's prayer for his people who have turned away from God's way. His appeal to God is not based on what we do or deserve - but it is an appeal to God's steadfast love and light. God's character. Similarly the John reading proclaims "God is light in him there is no darkness at all."
The invitation always is that we "walk in the light" or "lift our soul to God." In other words, the invitation is to living in awareness of our own dark places and give them to God. The word "shame" is used in the first two readings and I found myself thinking about shame. What occurred to me this morning is that maybe shame is not sin - (that which separates us from God, others and our best self) - maybe shame is unacknowledged sin. The sin that is denied, hidden perhaps. Or the sin that is reveled in and flaunted and accepted by us.
The Psalmist writes - "lead me in your truth, and teach me." I wonder if the greatest teaching is that grace is ours when we ask for it. And we ask for it when we acknowledge our need of it. And then we are able to live in light and freedom and love.
All of this is - of course - the gospel. the Good news of a God who loves us no matter what and is inviting us into a life of soul elevation and compassion. As we accept the grace and mercy of God we then give it to others. And my goodness - how the air changes in the room when we know we are loved and accepted no matter what.
There is a word that I hear all the time lately - "authentic" - living our authentic lives. I suspect that we can become authentic and real only when we can face all parts of ourselves. And that is a life long journey.
In her book The Breath of the Soul Joan Chittister writes:
"Prayer that emerges out of attitudes of authenticity and honesty however, takes us beyond all subterfuge, all hiding from God - even behind holy things. It requires us to unmask ourselves to ourselves so that God can come into our lives through the weaknesses, because of which we need God most."
Here's a great quote from CS Lewis: The prayer preceding all prayers is, "May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to"
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. amen