Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Praying Poetry

Praying the Psalms has long been my Food and Drink -- True Sustenance to my very soul. The poet in me clings to His Words of hope and encouragement as chiasmus after chiasmus settle into my depths.

He whispers to me in Imagery, in Song, in Truth, through His liquid Word which flows through my mind and heart before nestling soul-deep. His promises ring from line to line -- to be fulfilled in His time, a time far outside mine, yet whole and perfect. Circular rather than linear.

The Psalms contain every emotion we, in our faltering humanity, experience: joy and pain, gladness and sorrow, worship and anger, comprehension and incomprehension, song and tears, glee and frustration, overbrimming hope and utter hopelessness.

Paradoxically juxtaposed, He gathers these our all-too human frailties into His outstretched hands, cupping them in His perfect palms, molding them with loving care into far more than we can ask or imagine. He shapes us oh-so-gently and steadily into His image -- one stumbling, rambling experience at a time. We flutter in His hands, panicked, attempting to flee, seldom able to draw forth the calm that allows us to entrust ourselves to His wise plans, to His perfect keeping.

(The Psalms below are taken from The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, the Morning, Midday, and Vesper Offices for December 30 and 31, 2009.)

"For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation."
-- Psalm 62:1

"Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O Hope of all the ends of the earth . . . ."
-- Psalm 65:5

"I will call upon God, and the LORD will deliver me. In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice. He will bring me safely back . . . God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me."
-- Psalm 55:17ff

"Remember not our past sins; let your compassion be swift to meet us; for we have been brought very low. Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name; deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake."
-- Psalm 79:8–9

"Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord. He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice."
-- Psalm 68:33–34

Before I discovered resources like The Divine Hours that provided Psalms for me to pray, I had attempted to gather parts of my favorite Psalms and write them down to pray. Now I light a candle and use either the online version of The Divine Hours or my three-volume book version. Or I simply open the Psalter in my 1928 Book of Common Prayer and pray the Psalms for the designated morning or evening. Either way, the focus remains on praying His Word, most especially His Psalms, His poetry written expressly for us -- we, His poema. (In Ephesians 2:10 the Greek word for "workmanship" is indeed poema; we are indeed God's poem, His work of art).

He calls to us through the Psalms, a Father to His child, a Lover to His beloved.

We need only to respond.

holy experience


Lisa notes... said...

Your words are so apt. I love the Psalms as well, and I was just reading a post yesterday by John Piper about reading Bible poetry slowly because it is meant to be savored.


Traci Michele said...

LOVE THE PSALMS! Looking ahead with DESIRE...


Anne said...

Susanne, this is so beautiful! It reminds me of Kathleen Norris' Cloister Walk, but written so much more poetically. You have a tremendous gift for words! "He whispers to me in imagery" I love that! God bless you and thank you for writing this, it has gifted me.

sarah said...

Lovely :-)


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