Thursday, June 24, 2021 (Day 24)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 24 (adapted from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
The world and the dwellers within it.
For the Lord on the seas did found it,
and on the torrents set it firm.
Who shall go up on the mount of the Lord,
and who shall stand up in the Lord’s holy place?
An Opening Word
Psalm 24 begins with the cosmos belonging to God, not just “the earth” but “the fullness,” as if every new green and growing thing, every new creature, every new full part of the human-creature experience is part of God’s realm. It is expansive and implies an overflowing. And the last verse I highlighted, Robert Altar suggests is liturgical in nature. It is the kind of question you might have the choir sing as they walk from the back of the sanctuary to the front. It is the kind of doxological question that has an implied response: us, we go up to the holy place, we go into God’s house. For me it is a part of the theological narrative of the Psalms that I might have otherwise skipped over as “just churchy stuff”, but now I am particularly in tune with the deep abiding gift of gathering. The fact that the Psalmist can have a liturgical orientation means that the Psalmist can gather together in sacred community. Gathering in sacred community is the thing we as pandemic-tinged people, so dearly cherish in a new way.
Joyce Rupp is a modern mystic of sorts: a part of the religious order of “Servant of Mary,” spiritual director, retreat leader, and author. Among her many publications that bring us in touch with God is “Praying our Goodbyes,” a book I’ve had for almost a decade now, and which I would attribute to my own attentiveness to the work of prayer.
Here is an example of her mystic entry into the presence of God at the “thin veil” between the visible and invisible.
She says “One misty autumn morning I was taking a walk around a pond next to a retreat center. I let my intellect take a vacation and just gazed at what was before me. The clear water, the thick woods beyond, the steep grassy hill, each took me in and held me until I was transported to an easy peace. I felt a trace of that ‘thin veil’ Celtic lore uses to describe situations when the visible and the invisible mesh.”
I love her many names for God in the prayer below: first “Eternal Dwelling Place,” is if God is both solid ground and deepest welcome, then “Joyful Journeyer” as if God is co-companion on every path of life. (Oh and the prayer is from 2011, so her use of the word “zoom” is irony-free, though I can’t help but see that word now and think “screen time”).
Prayer from the Mystics: Joyce Rupp (born 1943)
Eternal Dwelling Place,
I know all things are passing.
My final home is not here.
Yet I zoom mindlessly through my days
Missing the passionate gift of life.
How differently I would enter each day
If I embraced the shortness of my life span.
The things I consider inconveniences
Would have a different colored hue.
The work I feel driven to accomplish
Would pale beside relationships I cherish.
The irritations and the angers would dissolve
As I inhaled the preciousness of life.
I hear you call to me this day:
“Behold! Enjoy! Appreciate!
Welcome all who enter this new day.
Live wild with rapturous wonder.
Look with awe and smile with elation.
Forgive those who stand at a distance.
Thank those who have settled in your heart.
Be tender with the rough edges of yourself.
Taste each morsel of life with fullness.”
May I live each day with heartiness,
Keeping things in clear perspective,
Recognizing that this day before me might truly be my last. Amen.