Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Sunday, June 6, 2021 (Day 6)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 6 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Lord, do not chastise me in Your wrath,
Do not punish me in Your fury.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am wretched.
Heal me, for my limbs are stricken.
And my life is hard stricken.
And You, O Lord, how long?
Come back, Lord, deliver my life,
Rescue me for the sake of Your kindness.

An Opening Word
In the ancient psalms, when you hear this language of “wrath” or “wretchedness” it is an indication that someone is experiencing illness, explains Robert Altar. In the ancient near east, illness in many contexts was interpreted as divine punishment, and since we talk about illness differently today, it is helpful to know that the first few lines might be summed up, “Lord, I am sick. I have a fever and chills. My body aches. I am overcome with illness” (and we can then understand words like wrath, punishment, fury, wretchedness as words pointing to a theological interpretation of such illness).

No wonder the psalmist uses that recurrent phrase “O Lord, how long?” We used it ourselves this year and will even still as India’s long suffering continues and elsewhere vaccines are in short supply (not to mention our friends for whom vaccination was not effective because of their own immunocompromised situations). I resonate with the psalmists demands, “deliver my life” and “rescue me”

In her swirling prose, Simone Weil seeks to talk with ease about our connection with God—it isn’t always straightforward language, she oscillates, fluctuates, whirls, flitting from one metaphor to the next. But it’s worth a deeper dive. About Simone Weil, Albert Camus said “the only great spirit of our time.” Andre Gide “the most truly spiritual writer of our century.” She died young (at the age of 34).

Prayer from the Mystics: Simone Weil (1909–1943)
Prayer consists of attention.
It is the orientation
of all the attention
of which the soul is capable
toward God.

May we orient our attention toward God.

June 5, 2021

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