Tuesday, July 13, 2021 (day 43)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 43 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
And let me come to God’s altar, to God, my keenest joy.
And let me acclaim You with the lyre, O God, my God.
How bent, my being, how you moan for me.
Hope in God, for yet I will acclaim the Lord,
God’s rescuing presence and my God.
An Opening Word
“How bent, my being, how you moan for me,” also appeared in Psalm 42, linking the two together. A more traditional rendering of the Hebrew is, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” which I also like, but there is something about the image of being bent, moaning points to another level of despair, as if doubled over from a gut punch.
On the other end of things, there is “my keenest joy,” which is that classic Psalmist doubling for the sake of emphasis, almost as if it is “joy of my joy” or “gladness of my gladness.” You’ll notice that that deep joy comes from attending worship, which for an individual in the midst of catastrophe, allows for what was private to become held communal, so that in community, a God-led way forward might be made known.
Today’s mystic is Bernard of Clairvaux who is important to me because he was one of the influencers that founded the Trappist monastic order out of which Thomas Merton emerged almost a millennia later (I’m continually drawn back to Merton, I can’t help it). Bernard was a Benedictine monk at a time of medieval reformation, and so his own life that was in tune with mystic and contemplative prayer was given space to thrive, and in a season in which religious change was the norm, his new monastic ways did not seem out of the ordinary.
Prayer from the Mystics: Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us,
that we, made in your image,
conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate your majesty, power, and wonder,
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with your tiny hands,
embrace us with your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.