Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Friday, September 3, 2021(Day 90)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 90 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
O Master, You have been our abode in every generation. Before mountains were born, before You spawned earth and world, from forever to forever You are God… Let Your acts be seen by Your servants and Your glory by their children. And may the sweetness of the Master our God be upon us and the work of our hands firmly found for us, and the work of our hands firmly found.

An Opening Word
Psalm 90 reiterates the depth and breadth of God’s reach. It is not just for today but across generations. Not just the generations we can count, but the generations that existed before the mountains were born. Not just that, before the very origins of the earth. Since a beginning before the beginning God has been home. And so because of that deep rooted sense of God’s presence, our own short-lived, transitory, here-today-gone-tomorrow lives can be entrusted to the “sweetness” of God. As Robert Alter says, “against the dismaying ephemerality of human existence, in which a life sprouts and withers like grass, God can give fleeting human experience solid substantiality.”

Ruth Burrows, today’s mystic, is more properly known as Sister Rachel Gregory. She has been a Carmelite nun in Quidenham, Norfolk, UK since 1943. She writes about mystics of days past, the gift of prayer, and connecting with God. I appreciate her way of talking about prayer in her book “The Essence of Prayer.” She says:

“Prayer is not just our doing; it is a gift. It is not communion with an unidentified divinity—were this the case, everything would depend on our effort, on our getting it right…prayer is communion with God…a communion that is there, for us to be taken into…. We do not have to discover the secret of gaining entrance; we are already within that encircling love.”

Her prayer below ends with “Amen” but not in the way we might expect. She prays that we might “be a glad Amen.” In other words, if “amen” means “may it be so,” our own being “amen” puts us in the place of embodying the presence of God in the world. Within us God becomes known.

Prayer from the Mystics: Ruth Burrows (Sister Rachel)
All is given.
Strengthen us,
O Given One,
to be a glad Amen.

September 3, 2021

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