Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Saturday, August 21, 2021 (Day 77)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 77 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
My voice to God—let me cry out. My voice to God—and hearken to me. In the day of my straits I sought the master. My eye flows at night, it will not stop. I refused to be consoled. I call God to mind and I moan. I speak and my spirit faints. You held open my eyelids. I throbbed and I could not speak.

An Opening Word
Psalm 77 continues beyond the verses above and goes on to narrate the ways God has been present in water, rain, thunderstorm, whirlwind, wave, and sea, but there is something innately raw and dense and true about it’s opening verses. When the world seems to overwhelm with pain or sorrow, we cannot move straight to praise, to recognizing God in our midst, until we utter our own cries, let tears flow, moan, throb. If you have ever been or are now going through a season of sorrow or pain, you might resonate with this Psalm. The words, “I refused to be consoled” speak of a time of true distress. The Psalms in this way, are so very eternal, telling the truth about the human experience from the depths of the ancient poet’s past. Then as now, there are times when our grief is so relentless that we cannot even speak. Silence is the only way to express our deepest need.

Angelo Caranfa says “for the mystic God is Silence, and a friend of silence.” Dag Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat and General-Secretary of the United Nations. Among other things he was known for setting up a meditation room at the U. N. headquarters in New York City. About that meditation room he said, “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house (the U. N.), dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.” In his introduction to Dag Hammarskjöld’s contemplative, mystic book “The Markings,” W. H. Auden writes that this book “the attempt by a professional man of action to unite in one life the via activa and the via contemplativa.”

Prayer from the Mystics: Dag Hammarskjöld (1905–1961)
Understand—through the stillness,
Act—out of stillness,
Conquer in the stillness.
In order for the eye to perceive colour,
it must divest itself of all colours.

May we find stillness and connect to God. Amen.

August 21, 2021

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