Friday, January 16, 2015

Psalm 139 for Sunday 18 January 2015

Psalm 139:1-5, 11-17
LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.

My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.

How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!

If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

Reflection       We humans have a knack for hiding, burying, avoiding ourselves; critical thoughts about the person whose voice pushes us over our edge, the swelling of lust for our neighbor or stranger in the market, the times we were offended, overlooked, misrepresented, forgotten or failed. We pretend we do not eat, drink or buy too much. We leap to judgments then cling to them. We deny our feelings then get stuck in loops rehearsing the awful things people said to or about us. Then, we build thick brick walls around all of this, hoping to keep it from leaking out. The trouble is, it does not work.

God sees and knows and so we cry,  
“Where can I go from your spirit?
   Or where can I flee from your presence?
 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light around me become night’,
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is as bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light to you. “

The only one who is left out in the dark is us. Those thick brick walls we build keep us from knowing who we are and whose we are. We cannot see that we are the beloved of God who sees and knows our whole story and loves us anyway. 
Years ago while making retreat at Christ in the Desert Monastery in Abique, New Mexico,  a single question rang through my soul, “Have I come here to find or avoid myself?” During Compline the first night of my retreat I quite forgot the question until we turned to Psalm 139 and chanted,                                                                                             
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
   and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Warm tears spilled on my psalm. I am seen. I am known. And I am not annihilated.  While walking to my room I paused in the uninterrupted darkness. “Lord, all the things I have never admitted, You see, You already know. Still You hold me in the breath of this night. You light my way with showers of stars.” Then I noticed a deer, maybe twenty or thirty feet away, watching me watching her. Amidst the unspeakable beauty of the canyon, with echoes of the monks chanting in my heart, I prayed , “Lord, you have searched me out and known me and not thrown me away. You have not stepped on me like an insect. You brought me to this holy place to wake me up in the middle of the night and let me know.  You know me; my journey, my comings, my goings and all the things I thought I had to hide.”

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