Fifty women with white hair slip demurely into the carved wooden choir stalls, bow their heads to pray and then sweetly sing “O God break the teeth in their mouths.” I was shocked. Is this phrase really in the Bible? A few minutes later we sing, “Let those who seek to hurt me, be covered with scorn and disgrace.” The nuns at the convent in Atchison, KS, sing all of the Psalms throughout the year (above are lines from 58 and 71) as part of their morning and evening prayers. Here are these kind-hearted Godly women belting out the raw emotions of anger and rage. The Psalms are not God’s words to us but our human feelings shared with God. And God can handle it. To be spiritual is to be honest.
Already, in what is likely week one of a longer period of global and local shut down, I have noticed so much sweetness. Out my window all day I hear families with small children riding bikes and laughing. At the grocery I hear a woman buying several desserts for her elderly neighbor: “I don’t know what she likes but I don’t want her to get out of her house so give me the lemon bar and the brownie so she will have a choice.” An unexpected large gift came to the church yesterday with a note “we appreciate your ministry in these tough times.” And last night Dave and I enjoyed an hour long video conference to just laugh and playfully visit with our adult children. There has been so much sweetness and at the same time, so much worry, fear, sadness, the raw human emotions expressed in the Psalms.
One of the most hopeful pieces of advice I have read over this past week actually came from FCI, the group that invests the church’s endowment. They wrote, “we are preaching the virtues of four words: Patience. Balance. Self-control. Courage.” I love that they used the word “preaching.” And I think that the four words apply to our spiritual lives as much as our financial lives. So each day, be patient with yourself and those around you. Balance your life by exercising and taking a break from the news. Practice self-control by resisting the impulse to go out in public when you don’t have to. And take courage. Because the God who created us embraces us in all of our human hope and despair.
Let us pray:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. (Psalm 57:1)
Grace and peace to you,