Words upon words

Last Sunday, I heard a fabulous sermon.  At one point in the sermon, the preacher suggested that we need one another in order to walk this path of faith.  I think he’s right.  We need one another’s support, encouragement, wisdom, passions, sufferings and joys.  We can learn from one another and we can grow with one another.  I’m reminded of the many times in my early days at St. Michael’s and later in seminary when someone said to me, “You might try…” or asked me, “Have you read…?”  Their suggestions and questions opened windows through which I could look at my life with God.

In that vein, I want to share with you a book, an article and a hymn I discovered this week.  Maybe they will prove helpful or at least interesting to you.

I try to begin my days in silence.  I brew a cup of coffee, I light a candle and some incense, and I sit down to read and then meditate.  Recently, I happened upon a book that opens the shades of the day in a most glorious way.  It’s A Book of Hours by Donald Culross Peattie.  Here’s a sampler:

A thousand miles an hour, day flies the Atlantic.  It finds the tossing lightship and picks up the white signal numbers on its gray flanks.  It gives back to lonely driftwood, prophetic of land, and to sargossas of red kelp, floating lazy and succulent, their existing shapes.  It eats out darkness, leaving only the etched lines of the spars and masts of the fishing fleet.  Meeting shore, it runs a finger of cold shine down marginal sand….(23-24)

And here, from an article entitled, “Necessary Songs” in the most recent issue of The Christian Century a hymn written by John Bell in paraphrase of psalm 94:

O great God and Lord of the earth,

rouse yourself and demonstrate justice;

give the arrogant what they deserve,

silence all malevolent boasting.

See how some you love are broken,

for they know the weight of oppression;

even widows and orphans are murdered,

and poor strangers are innocent victims.


Should the wrong change places with right

and the courts play host to corruption;

should the innocent fear for their lives

while the guilty smile at their scheming;

still the Lord will be your refuge,

be your strength and courage and tower.

Though your foot should verge on slipping,

God will cherish, keep and protect you.

As I watch reports from South Sudan, as I think about the Lost Boys of Sudan escaping the violence there and then returning to their homeland only to meet genocidal violence once again, as I read about battles escalating in Iraq, and as look out at the people of St. Martin’s encountering many layers of trauma in their lives, I find that hymn and the gritty psalms of the psalter comforting.

Martin Tel, in an article entitled “Necessary Songs”, suggests that we, as people of faith and people of pain, need to read and hear the hard psalms–not necessarily as lives given voice but as the laments of those who share this moment with us.  If you can, read the article.  In any case, read the psalms–both those that give voice to praise and those that give word to pain.

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