Psalm 42As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
It speaks to the condition of so many of us so often - LONGING and THIRSTING for God. And wondering where God is. The imagery here is powerful - a soul thirsting for God and having only tears as food. It is a picture of sorrow and despair.
Saturday I led a retreat at Camp Christian which was titled: "Behold - Attentive Living during the Advent." Fifteen women gathered with me at Camp Christian and we spent time listening and looking and open to God's presence. We engaged in many spiritual practices - the most important of which was getting away from home and its familiar responsibilities, getting away from computers and phones and just being present at Camp and with each other.
These retreats have been part of my life for a long time and enable me to carve out some time in the company of other seeking souls. We always provide a time in the morning - after our quiet time with God - to share in small groups with others. Saturday I participated and was overwhelmed by the opportunity to be with women who were real enough to share their longing for God. Life is hard and I heard stories of the struggles - of relationships that were fractured, of illness, of grief, of confusion. After each person shared the other three prayed over them. The person prayed for sat in a chair and others laid hands on them and someone said some words. It was powerful and just an example of the way we HOPE in God.
This Psalm is so beautiful and so poignant and so accurate about how it is at times in our life for all of us. We wonder - "Where are you God?" But the Psalmist gives us these words to remind us that this experience is part of the journey of faith. And our retreat gave us companions to witness our condition and to offer ourselves up to God.
There is no question in my mind that prayer - especially in community - can lighten the heavy loads that we carry. I am blessed to have many people who pray with and for me.
Here is a prayer by Joyce Rupp
God of exiles, keep calling us home.
You know the yearnings of our hearts.
ou also know how easily we can lose our way.
May this Advent season be a time of coming home to the best of who we are.
May our personal homecomings influence all the earth.
We walk this day with hopeful hearts, believing that your justice and compassion will bring comfort and freedom to all who are in exile.