Seeing Ourselves in Lent: Psalm 32, Part 2
Dear Kaleid Women,
Greetings to you! How are you today? We hope that you are well, even as the atmosphere swirls with thick clouds of angst over elections, the economy, and the epidemic. (See how we did that, with the three “e’s”? Now you can just pack those things up in your imaginary box of containment and bury it in the backyard for a while so we can talk about other things. We will wait until you get back from your mental trip outside...)
Okay. Now that that’s done, let’s return to Lent and Psalm 32. Isn’t it nice to know that there are traditions...narratives...rhythms...ways of being in the world that the Church has offered us for hundreds of years, through the world’s darkest and brightest seasons?
This week, we turn again at our “penitential psalm” and we consider the middle verses (3-7), putting ourselves inside. They read:
When I kept quiet, my limbs wasted through my anguish all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.
My strength waned as in the summer heat.
I acknowledged my failure to you, did not cover over my wrongdoing;
I said, “I will confess my rebellions to YHWH,”
And you did carry my sinful wrongdoing.
Therefore every committed person should plead with you when she is found,
Yes, when she is overwhelmed, by mighty waters; they will not reach her.
You are a shelter for me; you preserve me from distress;
With shouts of rescue you surround me.
As you meditate on the words of this psalm, we offer you a few reflections.
First, notice that there is a deep connection between spiritual and physical in these verses. The silent pain of sinful brokenness in the spirit is evidenced by a physical wasting, heaviness, and waning. We are invited to consider the integrated reality of our lives, to bring all of ourselves into the light of God’s love as we talk to God about our struggles and our failures.
Second, notice that the human struggle to get to the point of confession takes up five lines, whereas God’s action to carry the whole situation is a swift, one-line movement. We wrestle in the dark places--sometimes for a while-- but as we open our whole selves up to God in honest confession, God’s grace-that-carries moves in, swift and bold.
Finally, notice the two metaphors of rescue. First, the psalmist is overwhelmed “by mighty waters.” In the Ancient Near East, waters were synonymous with chaos. The waters in Genesis 1 were the chaos over which God hovered and began to order and shape, day by day. We all know what it feels like to sense the chaos and to reach out for peace, order, and restoration. God does this creative work, at the personal level and at the cosmic level. The second metaphor is that of “shouts of rescue.” These shouts (or “songs of deliverance”) are the vocal expressions of an army, on its way to victory. God’s rescue isn’t a begrudging, annoyed, or eye-rolling rescue. It’s a victorious, get-’er-done, I’m coming for you kind of a rescue.
And so, today, we invite you to go in peace.
The Kaleid Team