Today in the first Book of Samuel, we read:
“Do not judge from appearance or lofty stature. Not as humans see does God see, because humans see the appearance while the Lord looks into the heart.”
Amen to that!
Here’s a thought for the day that I think follows from yesterday’s word of humility (Ego sum pauper) as well as the gospel for today about the Pharisee and the tax collector (LK 18:9-14). Joan Chittister says, The harshness with which we judge the other will some day be the measure by which we ourselves are judged. “I really only love God,” Dorothy Day writes, “as much as I love the person I love the least.”
We Are All One: Reflections on Unity, Community and Commitment to Each Other, p.62
I am now convinced of the truth that one can find almost anything on the internet. I woke up this morning with a chant from a wisdom school in my head. I had learned and sung it first about ten years ago and then renewed my preference for it last month in Tucson. This morning, however, I could only bring back two of the three lines! I thought that if I waited and hummed it every once in awhile it would all come back. (That is a technique that is often successful.) After two hours of wakefulness, I only had one word of the short third, so I gave up and typed the first two lines into my Google search with a prompt of “third line…?” and presto! it appeared – not only the line but the whole chant with music and (dangerously) several different third line translations! To my relief, the one I wanted was there: Cor meum dabo. (It just now took me three tries to override the corrections of my computer which really wants to speak English instead of Latin!)
Much of my love of Latin came from respect for my high school teacher, Sister Thomas Aquinas, and the happy memories of the eight of us who persevered through four years of the subject because of her as well as for the subject, the basis for my love of language in general. But I digress…
Here is what I found: Ego sum pauper. Nihil habeo. Cor meum dabo. I am poor. I have nothing. I give my heart.
I’m thinking of making that my everyday morning offering – sung, of course. In Latin definitely. The magic of music can make a simple statement so much more, even when it is enough in itself. (Go to “Ego sum pauper” on the internet to hear the tune – and don’t bother with the amazing number of different things that pop up! Just trust the man who is conducting a choir or (hopefully) the second option that is just a flute in a kind of “follow the bouncing ball” without the ball.) If you need the phonetics to be able to sing it, let me know. I’m happy to oblige.
Sometimes we think it’s necessary to find beautiful words as our prayer, searching for just the right ones to catch God’s attention. I was reminded this morning by a simple prayer in the Jesuit prayer book, Hearts on Fire, that a simple statement is just fine because God hears all our prayers that are spoken with a sincere heart. Here is what Joseph Tetlow, SJ offered this morning.
Lord Jesus, from the start you invite ordinary people to come to where you live. When they come, you welcome them and call them to labor and rejoice with you. You are the most beautiful among all [men] and I hardly believe you want me for your friend. You are powerful, Lord. Draw me more and more into your friendship and lead me along the way you took with friends. (p.82)
Come to think of it, if even this seems too much sometimes, just a bow or an opening of our hands – or your own choice of a loving gesture – would surely be enough for Christ.
Here’s a short “word” from Meg Wheatley that I read yesterday and heartily support. The question is whether or not you or I will take it to heart and act upon it.
I hope we can claim conversation as our route back to each other, and as the path forward to a hopeful future. It only requires imagination and courage and faith. These are qualities possessed by everyone. Now is the time to exercise them to their fullest. (Turning to One Another, p. 5)
Could it possibly be as simple as inviting a few people to meet to “kick around a few ideas,” making sure that at least one of them is a creative thinker, one someone who follows through on ideas and one who is known to you but not yet in your circle of friends? When you meet, bring along the quote from Meg Wheatley and see what happens. I’d be happy to hear about your success.
Lent seems to be moving so slowly. Easter is late this year. I have to look diligently when outside for signs of spring – just the tiniest sprigs of green against the house – hoping that the still freezing temperatures will not overcome them. The view from my window is so monochromatic (whew! Where did that word come from this early?!) I’m not sure I can trust the sun this morning to effect a change. I feel as if the silence is so big everything would break if I moved more than my fingers on the keyboard. Traffic is silent. The birds seem to be hiding from the neighborhood hawk. Everything seems like that line from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “All creation waits on tiptoe to see the children of God coming into their own.”
How difficult it is to remain still and just BE. There is always so much to do. I’m sensing that the impulse of being is more important now than ever. Can you feel it? Can you allow your body and mind to acquiesce to it in hopes of learning some new truth? Let us breathe…and hope.
How does one know when God is speaking? Today the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar celebrates the willingness of Mary to acquiesce to God’s choice of her to be the mother of Jesus the Christ. In reading a commentary on Psalm 40, chosen for today’s feast, I read the following:
In this psalm we hear about the sense of waiting for God to act, and in the end God does so in a marvelous way for which the psalmist gives thanks. There is, however, another side to the experience which is also present in this psalm, the divine perspective. Does God act arbitrarily (only when God sees fit for some private reason), or is the divine act in response dependent upon the human condition? Sacred teaching speaks about “readiness.” When the heart is ready God acts swiftly, without delay or hesitation. God willingly gives the divine Self to an open and empty heart. This is the key. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew, p. 101)
Clearly this state of heart does not come without preparation. I can imagine Mary sitting in silence (or doing her daily chores with full attention) from early childhood, praying not just for herself but for her loved ones to be filled with love and the desire for God. My best guess of her prayer would approximate the lovely gospel acclamation of David Haas, Come now, O Word of God (because music lifts me beyond the capacity of the spoken word). Listen:
Fill our minds that we may hear Your wisdom. Touch our lips that we may speak Your truth. Hold our hearts that we may always follow You. Come now, O Word of God. (music on youtube)
I was startled by concepts in an alternate translation of Psalm 103 this morning. The first line was not so different from the lectionary reading but it made me feel the guilelessness of a child who might blurt it out: O God, I bless you with my whole heart and soul! Verse four caught me, however – again like a child now prancing with delight: I wear your love and mercy like a crown! The entire translation was delightful but the attending notes afforded me what I was looking for that opened up a new perspective in my relationship with God.
“The word barakah”, I read, “is Hebrew for blessing.” (No surprise there.) “It means something more in Hebrew than it does in English, a power and grace that flows from one being and place to another through the universe from its divine Source. Interestingly, it flows both ways, from the divine Source to ourselves, and from ourselves back to the Source, Apparently we are catalysts in the flow of blessing.”
Two questions of note follow: How is it possible to be a blessing, or one of the conduits through which it flows? and more to the point of my wondering, How is it possible to bless God? I’m used to asking for God’s blessing on others but can blessing the Divine, the Almighty One be efficacious in the same powerful, gracious way as blessing other beings? How does the understanding (or at least the acceptance) of that flow of blessing alter my view on things or the way in which I wear that crown of love and mercy that is God’s gift to me?
I picked up John Philip Newell’s book, Praying with the Earth, just now and found two prayers for Saturday morning that seemed helpful. The first was entitled Prayer for the Life of the World and the second was a Prayer of Blessing. I imagined a great gathering of people praying the prayers together and the peace of God flowing through the earth bringing peace. May it be so in our time.
Psalm 105 presents us today with a review of what we sometimes call “salvation history,” going back to Abraham and reminding us of all the great figures and stories of the ancient Hebrew people. What was most meaningful to me, however, as I read was the sense of connection – present to past – and the continuity of God’s actions in the life of the world, God’s faithfulness throughout all time, and even until now. It was the introductory verses that gave this sense of gratitude to me. Listen…
O God, we rise in thanks to call upon your name; we rise to spread the tidings of your deeds. We rise to sing you songs of praise, recounting every work and word in music’s voice. We rise to sing in honor of your holy name; let every seeker’s heart rejoice and search for you with all their strength until they stand before the beauty of your face, remembering.
Remember, remember everything you can recall; remember every work and wonder, remember every word God speaks to you in wisdom. Remember too that you are children of the Blessed One… (Ancient Songs sung Anew, p. 265)