Wednesday, August 4, 2021 (Day 60)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 60 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
God, You have abandoned us, breached us.
You were incensed—restore us to life!
You made the land quake, You cracked it.
Heal its shards, for it has toppled.
You sated Your people with harsh drink,
You made us drink poison wine.
You once gave to those who fear.
You a banner for rallying because of the truth.
So that Your friends be set free, rescue with Your right hand and answer us….
Have You not, O God, abandoned us?
You do not sally forth, God, with our armies.
Give us help…. Through God we shall gather strength,
and God will stamp out our foes.

An Opening Word
The Psalmist in Psalm 60 is disappointed, forsaken, deserted. They feel God has disappeared, or at least not held up God’s side of the divine-human relationship. And then they felt divine anger. Not some milquetoast vanishing of the presence of God, but a rising up of hot rage, directed not at the Psalmist’s enemies, but at the Psalmist’s community, at God’s own people. That is an aggressive accusation from the Psalmist, likely based in the reality of suffering. How do we interpret our own hardship? Do we in our own anger about the injustice of our own torment, blame God?

The Psalmist softens by the end asking “Give us help.” The Psalmist returns to a spirit of confidence in God saying “God will stamp out our foes.” But it is not without the tug of remembering that feeling of abandonment. The Psalmist makes no attempt to whitewash those feelings of being stranded in misery. The emotional rollercoaster is out on display, unedited, so that we might see today, that we are offered an invitation to lament and rage against God. That lament and rage does not need to be the final word, but our biblical witness gives us a chance to ride out the turbulent waves of our own emotional rollercoaster, without feeling the need to edit out what is raw.

Today’s mystic is Dame Gertrude More who was born in Essex, England in 1606. Her mother died at a young age, and her father’s attentiveness was limited, so she found her way to a newly forming monastic community in Cambrai, France where she felt limited connection at first, until she met Augustine Baker who became her spiritual director. With his help she began to advance on her spiritual journey, deepening in her “interior life” and, as can be seen below, wrote beautifully about the presence of God. As her spiritual journey became more clear, her leadership in the abbey became more defined, but before she gained wider prominence, she died of small-pox at the age of 27.

Prayer from the Mystics: Dame Gertrude More (1606–1633)
Thou, my Lord God, art good above all goods;
Thou alone most high;
Thou alone most powerful;
Thou alone most full and sufficient;
Thou alone most sweet and comfortable;
Thou alone most beautiful and loving;
Thou alone most noble, and glorious above all things;
in Whom all goods are most perfectly, have been, and ever shall be.

And therefore it is too little and not sufficient whatsoever
Thou bestowest on me besides Thouself,
or revealest of Thyself,
or promise whilst Thou art not seen nor fully obtained.
For surely my heart cannot rest
nor be fully contented
unless it rest in Thee,
and transcend all gifts and creatures whatsoever.
Amen.