Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Thursday, June 3, 2021 (Day 3)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 3 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Lord, how many are my foes, many, who rise up against me.
Many who say of my life: No rescue for him through God.
And you, Lord, a shield are for me, my glory, who lifts up my head.
With my voice I cry out to the Lord; God answers me from God’s holy mountain.
I lie down and I sleep. I awake, for the Lord has sustained me.
I fear not from myriads of troops that round about set against me.
Rise, Lord! … Rescue is the Lord’s! On your people your blessing.

An Opening Word
Psalms so reliably oscillate between urgent plight and fervent praise, and Psalm 3 is no exception. That first line resonates: “many are my foes” might not be the way we’d put it necessarily, but we’ve been there, whether it is the pummeling of a 7th grade bully, or a sixth-decade fall from grace (think Bill Gates, or anyone else who has publicly gone head-to-head with the truth of their mistakes), or somewhere in between.

Then lightening-fast, the psalmist switches gears, and hears God’s answer: God sustains. God rescues. God blesses. There is no straightforward path: our very lives oscillate between satisfaction and sorrow, fortune and folly, fitness and fiasco.

All the more reason to be grounded by God who, according to Hildegard of Bingen, is “the root of all things” (apt nature metaphor as we water our late spring gardens). Her prayer below unfolds evermore metaphors from everyday life, and I especially love the word “luminous” to describe the divine. Hildegard’s town of Bingen was an important Rhineland stopping point on the Rhine River from Cologne or Bonn toward Strasbourg or Basel, and you may have learned about her in Music History class: she is one of the earliest known composers in Western music, with a style called “sacred monophony.”

Prayer from the Mystics: Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)
Holy Spirit,
giving life to all life,
moving all creatures,
root of all things,
washing them clean,
wiping out their mistakes,
healing their wounds,
you are our true life,
luminous, wonderful,
awakening the heart
from its ancient sleep.

June 3, 2021

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