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Thursday, January 30, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 27:1, 4–9
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation! (NRSV)
The writer of Psalm 27 reveals the deepest desires of his heart—to live constantly in God’s presence, taking in God’s beauty, seeking God in the temple. “‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Saint Augustine stated, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Ways that our hearts find rest in God, when we come to “know” or contemplate God, are varied. Barbara Holmes, in her book Joy Unspeakable, teaches how the black experience of moaning together, singing spirituals that lead to intense inner awareness, participating in de facto liturgies of lamentation, and engaging in nonviolent resistance produced a qualitatively different, profound contemplative mind in people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Thurman, and Sojourner Truth. Many others come to this contemplative mind through activities like music, dancing, and running or whatever quiets one’s body, mind, and heart.
Forms of prayer need to invade our unconscious to change anything in depth. Such activities include centering prayer, walking meditation, inner practices of letting go, shadow work, or immersing oneself in a long period of silence. Pilgrimages, prayer beads, body prostrations, bows and genuflections, blessing oneself with a sign of the cross or by waving the sun’s morning rays towards one’s face, statues, liturgical banners, sprinkling water or corn pollen, incense, smoldering sage, candles, bundles of prayer sticks, theatrical plays, and liturgies are all spiritual practices that have one thing in common: they are acted out, mimed, embodied expressions of spirit. They allow the soul to know itself through the outer world. They are means to seek and find the Lord.
My heart yearns for you, God. Bless me with a sense of your abiding presence. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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