Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Monday, June 14, 2021 (Day 14)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 14 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
The scoundrel has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
The Lord from the heavens looked down
on the sons of humankind to see,
is there someone discerning,
someone seeking out God.

All turn astray, altogether befouled.
There is none who does good.
There is not even one…
In your plot against the poor you are shamed,
For the Lord is shelter for the poor.

An Opening Word
It seems so thoroughly modern to hear this psalm’s critique of those who say, “there is no God,” though the interpretation here is focused more on right/wrong moral action and less on theological un/belief. God is imagined looking down from a heavenly throne, wondering if anyone at all seeks God. Nope. No one. Everyone is selfish. Everyone is plotting against the poor for the sake of their own gain. God comes up short, finds no one righteous. This gives the psalmist a resting place for this idea that “the Lord is shelter for the poor,” a theological ideal that is quite prevalent throughout scripture, foundational, even.

Evelyn Underhill knew deeply this sacred orientation to shelter and serve the poor. She spent her mornings reading and writing, and her afternoons caring for the poor and sick in her native England. It was a life of action, supported by a deep faith. “Real prayer” she says, “begins with the plunge into the water.” In other words, prayer takes risk, takes commitment, takes daring. It might mean you hold your breath. It might mean you show up ready to dive in (prayer book, scripture, silence become the goggles, flippers, kickboard in this swimming metaphor). It might mean you dive in, ready or not. A plunge in the water. What a metaphor for prayer.

Prayer from the Mystics: Evelyn Underhill (1343–1416)
‘Let our lives run to Your embrace…
and breathe the breath of Eternity.
O God Supreme!
Most secret and most present,
most beautiful and strong.
Constant yet Incomprehensible,
changeless yet changing all!
What can I say,
my God,
my Life,
my Holy Joy…
You are the only reality…’

June 14, 2021

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