Friday, July 31, 2015

Psalm 47

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
 
Love reigns over the nations, 
awaiting an answer to its call. 
May the leaders of the nations gather 
to bring peace and justice to all. 
For the earth belongs to Love, 
Who yearns to see creation healed.  

   
The silence of the psalms astounds me.  


   

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Royalty

This morning, I am thinking of the one I call Queen Esther.  She currently resides in a rehab hospital.  Her frame is large and generally still. She wears a white head covering that is fairly stiff, so it sits on her head like an angular crown.  She is often adorned in a blanket or sheet.  I believe she is probably younger than I. 
 
She greets me warmly, with one arm outstretched, even though we have just recently met.  Her eyes are striking; they look to be made of amber and her skin is only slightly darker.  She does have some dental issues, but when she smiles, the physical imperfections and health challenges disappear, and I am humbled.  She is one of those, simply by presence alone, who remind me that we are more.   
   
  
Both high and low find refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
For with you is the fountain of life; 
in your light we see light. 
 
Psalm 36:7,9    
   
Truth tells my heart I am loved by Someone who cares for me unconditionally. This gift delights me past the point of thinking. It transforms me, too, and I become one with divine Love, who reminds me... 
Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls   




Psalm 46

Psalms for Praying
Nan C. Merrill   

The Beloved is our refuge and our strength, 
a loving Presence in times of trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear though
the earth should change, 
though the mountains shake in the 
heart of the sea; 
Though the waters roar and foam, 
though the mountains tremble 
with its tumult. 
  
There is a river whose streams 
make glad the Holy City, 
the holy habitation of the Most High. 
The Beloved is in the midst of it, 
it shall not be moved; 
Our loving Creator is an 
ever-present help. 
The nations may be at war, 
countries left in ruin, 
yet is the Voice of the Almighty heard, 
melting hearts of stone. 
The Beloved is with us, 
the infinite Heart of Love.  
  
Come, behold the works of the Beloved, 
how love does reign even in 
humanity's desolation. 
For the Beloved makes wars to cease, 
breaking the barriers of fear; 
shattering the greedy and oppressors, 
refining hearts of iron.
"Be still and know that I am Love. 
I am exalted among the nations, 
I am exalted in the earth!" 
The One who knows all hearts is with us; 
The Beloved is our refuge and our strength.    

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Psalm 45

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill    
    
    
My heart overflows with gratitude and peace; 
I address my verses to the 
Heart of all hearts; 
My tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.   
    
All glorious is the soul within, 
the abode of the Merciful One; 
through many trials and suffering, 
do you come to the Beloved, 
refined by fire as you follow Love's way.
With joy and gladness you are led along, 
as you awaken to the Heart of your heart.   
 
Instead of a house of fear, you 
will come to dwell with Love, 
you will radiate the light of truth 
to all the earth. 
There will you celebrate the Beloved 
for generations to come, 
the people will praise Love's way
for ever and ever.    



     

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Psalm 44

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
    
O, You who know all hearts, 
who are ever present to your people, 
Through you we face our enemies; 
through Your Name we call forth our fears. 
For not in military powers do we trust, 
nor can arms save us. 
For You alone can put our fears to rest, 
and transform them into peace.  
In You, O Gracious One, do we give thanks, 
and forever will we offer You our songs of praise.    


    


Psalm 43

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
 
O, send out your light and your truth; 
let them guide me, 
Let them lead me to your holy hill, 
to the home of integrity! 
Then I will come to you, Heart of my heart, 
to the Beloved, my exceeding joy;
And I will praise You with song, 
O my Beloved, my Comforter. 
 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
and why are you disquieted within me?
My hope is in the Beloved, my strength
and my joy, 
O my soul, open the door to Love! 

 
   

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Psalm 42

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
 
All this I remember, 
as I pour out my soul;
How I knew your Presence within me 
as I went out among the throng,
proceeding to the House of Prayer; 
With loud voice we gave You praise
and acclamation,
a multitude proclaiming gratitude 
and joy. 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
and why are you disquieted within me?
My hope is in the Beloved, 
my strength and my joy.   


     

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Psalm 41

Psalms for Praying
Nan C. Merrill
 
Blessed are you who consider the poor!
For you are delivered in the day of trouble; 
The One who knows all hearts 
protects you and renews your life; 
you are called blessed in the land; 
you are not beset by fear.
For the Heart of your heart 
will sustain you; 
in illness you will find comfort and healing.   
  
  
229. We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.
230. Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. In the end, a world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms.
231. Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also “macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones”.[156]That is why the Church set before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love”.[157] Social love is the key to authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity”.[158] In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.                                                                                        
- Pope Francis, Encyclical 





Friday, July 24, 2015

Found in a Day

This morning I mentioned to Tyler, "I feel like I lost a day somewhere."  However, he was getting ready to go to a meeting and I was getting ready to go to a skilled nursing community so we did not continue the conversation.  When I arrived at the community, the activity director looked surprised and said, "Oh, I forgot you were coming!  This is a good group for you to meet with anyway.  I will go get John."  

I had seen John when I first walked in, and was glad to see him.  He loves to talk about faith. His father had been a preacher in the African Methodist Church, and John said his mother was also very well educated.  "As the oldest, I was expected to learn to converse with my mother, and learn to preach from my father.  It was a pretty good deal for me."  
 
As we began to gather around the table, I suggested we talk about Jesus.   Several folks said they would like that. I decided to talk about Matthew 14, when both Jesus and Peter walk on water.  Anita, who has told me that she has always struggled with a learning disability, surprised me when she said, "I have always wondered if that story was true."   We then proceeded to talk about learning to swim, and how fear made us sink, and how wonderful it was to have someone close by as we paddled.  How surprised we were to learn we could float with little effort once we were no longer afraid.   
  
I then asked John what his favorite story about Jesus was, and he replied, "When Jesus promised that we would be given an advocate."  We then talked about the gifts of love and wisdom and guidance and how those gifts were for every one of us.  Teresa asked quietly, "Even me?"
  
"Oh, yes," John and I replied in unison.   Anita added, "Isn't that wonderful?" Teresa said she had to agree.     

We then sang a bit, and their voices were surprisingly strong.  Even those who could not speak.  I could hear them singing as they smiled and nodded their heads. 

After our closing prayer, I mentioned to John that I missed him last month.  He asked, "What day did you come?"  I replied that I came on a Saturday. He replied that he was not here on most Saturdays because of dialysis.

I became worried. "But today is a Saturday." I was concerned that somehow he had missed an important appointment. He laughed and said that no, today was Friday.  I happened to look up and see a digital clock that also included the date.  Seems today is indeed Friday.  
  
I could not help but ask, "You mean we have had this wonderful conversation, shared prayers and singing, and I came on the wrong day?"  There was much laughter, and Anita said, "Oh, do not worry. You get used to it.  Besides, I think you came on the right day. You brought us Jesus."  

Afterwards, I went to the activity director to apologize for interrupting her work.  She, too, replied, "Do not worry.  I don't think they liked my project anyway. I heard you all singing all the way down the hall!"
  
The gift of a day.  I am grateful.   
  
I heard Jesus ask, "Why did you doubt?"   Matthew 14:31 

Psalm 40

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
  
Sacrifice and offering are not 
your desire for us; 
for you have opened our 
heart's ear. 
Burnt offerings are not required. 
Let us cry out: "Yes, I come; 
in the book it is written of me; 
I delight to abandon myself  
into your hands, 
O My Beloved; 
For you are the Heart of my heart."  
   
  
It is written that after his baptism Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness.  Noah and his charges spent 40 days on the waters.  On the 40th day of this journey I am reminded that we do not have to burn ourselves up for God, but rather be willing to extend love into this world.         
 
I recognize that this picture is quite subtle, perhaps too much for some.  Yet, I find the delicate reaching up that is happening at the bottom of the photograph very beautiful.  It speaks to me about how subtle joy often is.  Yet, even when it is soft and muted, it is substantial enough to carry us.  Even through a time of drought.   
 
I celebrate this 40th day.     


  


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Psalm 39

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill    
   
O Loving Presence, be with us 
to the end, 
whatever the measure of our days; 
our life passes as the blinking of an eye.
For the gift of life fades too 
soon away; 
yet how precious are we in your sight!
Surely your plan for us is written in our hearts.
Surely your angels stand ready 
to guide us on our way. 
Surely there is nothing to fear, 
for you abide with us; 
awaiting our awakening to your love. 


    

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Psalm 38

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill   


For you alone, Beloved, do I wait;
You alone, O Gracious One, 
who will answer my cry. 
And I pray, "Be my strength and 
uphold me, 
when I am weak and about to fall!"  
Let me not separate myself from You, 
O Beloved!
Make your home in my heart!   


 



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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Psalm 37

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill    
 
Psalm 37 is long and Merrill's rendition is beautiful.  As I ponder the political landscape of our nation, I offer you this abridged encouragement as we make our way, not only for ourselves, but for those whose journeys are just beginning.    

   
Trust in the Most High, and seek goodness; 
live harmoniously upon the earth 
in peace and with assurance. 
Take delight in the Beloved, 
enjoy the bountiful gifts of Love. 
 
Commit your life to the Beloved, 
confident that Love will act 
on your behalf, 
Making clear your pathway, 
bright as the sun at midday.
 
From my birth to my elder years, 
I have watched the upright blessed 
with inner strength and faith. 
Living as beneficial presences in the world,
their children come to know Love.   
 
I have seen the greedy ones, 
their ways are overbearing, 
they puff themselves up with pride. 
I passed by seeing only an inflated balloon, 
a passing fancy soon to brought down.   
 
Look at the innocent, consider those 
honest of heart; 
they leave a rich inheritance 
to their children. 
But those who live with greed, 
end their days empty, 
they leave a legacy of hollow vanity 
to their children.
 
Love invites all to open their hearts. 

    
 

 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Psalm 36

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 


How precious is your steadfast love, 
O Companioning Presence. 
We, your children, take refuge in 
the shadow of your wings. 
We feast on the abundance of Gaia, 
the Earth;
You invite us to drink from living streams.
For in You is the very source of life; 
and in your Light do we see light. 
  
 
Everywhere I walk now, I see the effects of the drought.  Yet, much beauty is still to be found.  Today, Tyler and I will take a day off and return to the ocean to get in touch with our inner saltiness and God's vastness.    
  
Peace on your journeys.  


      

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Psalm 35

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill


Yes, O Compassionate One, let truth
and love overcome ignorance,
according to your goodness;
that all might rejoice and give thanks!
Foolish are those who think that persecution  
will bring them joy; 
Nor will destruction bring them peace. 
 
Let those who rejoice in another's misfortune,
in their shame become contrite.
Let them be humbled and turn their hearts
to You, O Beloved, 
all those who know not Love!
May all who offer their lives to peace
shout for joy and be glad,
and always pray, 
"Great are You, O Love,
Who dwell in all open hearts!"  
Then shall I sing of your saving justice 
and praise You all day long!    

 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Breath

I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through, listen to this music.
I am the concert from the mouth of every creature, singing with the myriad chorus.
I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through, listen to this music.  

Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz (1320-1389)   

  

 
 
[Patriarch Bartholomew] asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which 'entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed, and compulsion.' As Christians, we are also called to 'accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet (Pope Francis, Encyclical, Location 76, Kindle).'    
  
A beautiful song.   May we sing it together.