Friday, August 27, 2021 (Day 83)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 83 (adapted from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
O God, no silence for You! Do not be mute and do not be quiet, God. For, look, Your enemies rage, and those who hate You lift their heads. Against Your people they devise cunning counsel and conspire against Your protected ones… For they conspired with a single heart, against You they sealed a pact… Edom, Ishmael, Moab, Hagri, Gebal, Amon, Amaleck, Philista, Tyre, Assyria, Midian, Sisera, Jabin…pursue them with Your storm and with Your tempest dismay them… Your name is the Lord. You alone are most high over all the earth.
An Opening Word
In Psalm 83, almost all the nations in the known world seem to be conspiring against God. Everyone, from east and west and north and south (within the “small Transjordanian kingdoms” of the biblical known-world) have sat down at table together and formed a coalition, made a partnership, created a secret handshake, and signed on the dotted line. And so the Psalmist is giving God some advice: speak up. Well don’t just speak up, but storm them. Pursue them. Don’t give up until they are “disgraced” and “perish.” After considering the primacy of silence in the mystic’s encounter with God, it sure is strange to hear the Psalmist say “O God, no silence for You!” In that way the assorted library of the Psalms give us a sense that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every active under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Today’s mystic, Adrienne von Speyr, would suggest a more peaceful approach to the divine, one rooted in visions of a powerful God, yes, but not “power” as a shorthand for violence. Adrienne von Speyr was a doctor, wife, and mother born at the turn of the century in La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland. Her dad was an ophthalmologist, and when he died while she was still growing up, her landscape changed tremendously. She had been sick as a child, but when her father died, her mother could no longer afford help at home, and Adrienne took on the housework. When she fell ill with tuberculosis in both lungs, and experienced the intense pain of breathing, she of course could not continue the housework, and her mother practically disowned her. Knowing this about her early childhood and young adulthood elevates her words somehow. In deep suffering, even if she (at times) felt divine-abandonment, she ultimately continued to participate, and delve deeper into the mystery and love of God.
Prayer from the Mystics: Adrienne von Speyr (1902–1967)
Prayer is a mysterious life with God,
a participating in the center of God’s being
and in God’s divine, triune love.
May we be centered by such divine love. Amen.