Wednesday, February 17, 2016


With the Bible texts of this week.

I had this plan during Lent to write every day about something I was pondering within the lectionary texts of the day.  And I have found that they are just not really speaking to me.

Psalm 17 is the Psalm of the week and it gets on my last nerve.  It starts like this:
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me,
you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.

I find this does not relate  at all to me - as person who does not have "lips free from deceit" and "no wickedness" and whose mouth does "transgress" at times.   And the implication is that God attends to us when we are our best selves.  Like I said the whole thing frustrates me.

So I will look at the other two texts today about Job's distress and Jesus ' arrest and betrayal which are about unjust suffering. . So maybe that is where I can find a little something to chew on.  Actually, as I write this - that may be exactly where God wants me to spend time.

What I keep coming up against on this journey with Jesus is the way our faith will lead us to experience a broken heart.  Not for ourselves but for others.   The situation in Syria is so tragic that it is beyond words.  It is unimaginable to me who lives in the freedom of this country and in a home that I love with family around me - to consider what these people have had to endure in order to find safety.  That is just one example.  There are so many others that are close to home and put me in touch with the helplessness we feel when people that we love are struggling with cancer or mental illness or other hard issues.  And then there are the unseen forces that work against the abundant life - a culture that promotes greed and competition, the way we divide, dehumanize  and judge each other  based on race, religion, education, gender, etc. It  brings us  to a place of righteous anger but also just a broken heart. 

I have been dipping in and out of Richard Rohr's book What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self. One of the pathways is suffering and pain.  He writes:

  • Only suffering and prayer are strong enough to decentralize both the ego and the superego.
  • It is the things that you cannot do anything about and the things that you cannot do anything with that do something with you.
My experience is that the "something" that it does with me is bring me to my knees as I feel helpless. .Often all we can do is witness the pain and suffering and pray, pray, pray. . I continue to trust that if there is a leading for me to act on behalf of others, God will show me the way.

And of course, at the same time there is the joy of life and the work of God  that is unmistakeable when I open my eyes and look around.   I was listening this morning to a talk by Dallas Willard about "seeking first the kingdom of God" and he said that we seek the kingdom as we look for God's presence and work in it.(Looking, he says, like when we are looking for lost keys!)

As I write this, I hear my dog Ginger barking at the squirrels and the birds in our yard.  She spends her day (besides sleeping) actively watching with diligence and attention for their presence in our (her) space..

 Seeking the Kingdom may mean that I live with that kind of attention to looking for God's activity in  life.  Richard Rohr writes: "God seems to be both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in all things."

Maybe the frustration with my own imperfect self  and  heartbreak over the suffering of others  will be balanced by renewed awareness of God's presence in the present.  I hope so.

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