Tuesday, August 17, 2021 (Day 73)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 73 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Only good to Israel is God,
to the pure of heart.
As for me, my feet had almost strayed,
my steps had nearly tumbled…
Yet I was always with You,
You grasped my right hand.
You guided me with Your counsel, a
and toward glory You took me….
But I—God’s closeness is good to me,
I make the Master the Lord my shelter,
to recount all Your works.

An Opening Word
Psalm 73 is the beginning of “Book Three” of the Psalms, because the entire 150 chapter collection is divided into five total chapters. This Psalm is considering, “How is it that the wicked prosper?” and the verses above point to the way the Psalmist themselves was tempted by the wicked to stray. They “almost” and “nearly” took another path, but God was “guide” and “counsel” who held their hand and made sure they were not seduced. It seems a realistic prayer: even 5th and 6th graders know what it’s like to “almost” be led astray, and how hard it is to make the choice not to give way to the bully lifestyle.

George Fox, today’s mystic, was also constantly guided by God along a path of struggle. He was born in Leicestershire, England during the “Christian Awakening” and just before a civil war. He left home at the age of 19 to seek “the truth” that anyone can encounter God themselves and does not need the intervention of a priest. He was imprisoned for such a belief in 1649 but is famous for saying “truth can live in the jails.” He organized the “Friends” of the truth, and his spiritual practices launched the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers. Because many of the Friends were sailing to the New World, he ended up heading that direction as well. In one episode he landed on the Caribbean Island of Barbados, and found that many among the Society of Friends were owners of slaves, and he declared that all Friends should release their slaves either now, or within the next 30 years. Quakers are known for worship services that are not led by clergy, that are almost entirely made up of silence, and that make room for the Spirit of God to speak within each of us. The prayer below comes from a letter George Fox wrote, which echoes his many travels, and that presence of God that is “beyond all words,” a central expression of his faith.

Prayer from the Mystics: George Fox (1624–1691)
Glory to the Lord God over all for ever,
who was our convoy,
and steered our course!
who is the God of the whole earth,
of the seas and winds,
and made the clouds His chariots,
beyond all words,
blessed be His name for ever!
He is over all in His great power and wisdom. Amen.