Tuesday, July 6, 2021 (day 36)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 36 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Lord, in the heavens,
Your kindness,
and Your faithfulness to the skies.
Your justice like the unending mountains,
Your judgement, the great abyss,
man and beast the Lord rescues.
How dear is Your kindness,
O God, and the sons of men
in Your wings’ shadow shelter.
They take their fill from the fare of Your house,
and from Your stream of delights You give them drink.
For Yours is the fountain of life,
in Your light we shall see light.
Draw down Your kindness to those who know You,
and Your justice to the upright.

An Opening Word
I can imagine a world in which this Psalm is as popular as Psalm 23. Kindness, faithfulness, shelter, food, drink, life, light… what else do you need from God? Metaphors like “faithfulness to the skies,” or “unending mountains,” or sheltering in Your shadow” or “fountain of life” all give us so much to fall back on. They are huge thematic motifs that are found across the long arch of scripture, and they are nature metaphors, ones that do not expire because we are always in search of such shelter, or such expansive faithfulness from God. I especially like the phrase “draw down Your kindness.” I, with the Psalmist, want God to draw down kindness to us on a regular basis. So. Very. Needed.

Today’s mystic, Kassiani, took to nature images in prayer as well, as seen below in the God who manages the water cycle, “gathering into clouds the water of the sea.” She was born in Constantinople and grew up speaking Greek in what was then the Byzantine empire. She was among the possible brides of the emperor, but was able to find her way out of that responsibility, and became a poet, hymnist, and powerful nun who founded a convent. She lived two centuries before Hildegard of Bingen, and while she may not be as recognized/popular, she navigated a complex religious and power landscape. She is thought to have said, “I hate silence when it’s time to speak,” wanting people to take bold, persuasive, action, not be cowardly.

Prayer from the Mystics: Kassiane (born around 804–date of death unknown)
Receive the sources of my tears,
O Thou Who dost gather into clouds the water of the sea;
in Thine ineffable condescension,
deign to bend down Thyself to me a
and to the lamentations of my heart,
O Thou Who didst spread out the Heavens.
Amen.