Saturday, April 09, 2011

psalms of Matte

In the book I am currently reading, The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, she writes a chapter about the Psalms and how in contemporary spirituality, we tend to avoid some of them, especially the "cursing psalms" as she calls them. Seldom do you hear these read in public or expounded upon. The brutal, angry language is unsettling and uncomfortable. And yet, she insists, these psalms smack of reality - a reality that religion tries to ignore too often.

Following Jesus is not about positive thinking, which in many cases can be a form of denial. It is cowardly to pick and choose the pretty, uplifting parts of the Bible and leave out the bits about injustice, revenge, darkness, and pain. Even if I am not currently in a situation which echoes these themes, someone I know certainly is. How can I purport to love God and not identify with my neighbour?

Many years ago, on a quest to become a better writer, I began my own book of psalms. Though I never made it to my goal of writing 150 of them (perhaps I should take up the task again), I learned much in the process. Let me share a few of them with you here:

#14
Blue. A little life form.
Self-contained. A tornado of energy.
A warm ball of companionship.
What was unfamiliar in the beginning
grows dearer with every day.
It's a strange thing
the way we attach ourselves to animals
only to know they will probably cause
us sadness when they are gone.
Friendship is always this way.

(Blue, a kitten I had just adopted, died 4 days after I wrote this.)

#18
Why does God not show himself in my life more often?
Is it up to me?
So I ask.
God, come.
Must I do something first?
So I ask.
I don't know.
Is it just his way to come and go?
So I ask.
His ways are higher than my ways.
I wish he was more consistent in
showing himself to me.
Perhaps he wishes the same thing about me.

This is the blind on the window right next to my office. I can't see very clearly through it. Like life sometimes.

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