the weaving of stories
Reading Psalm 49 this morning, I was struck by the thought that there is no ransom we can pay for our lives, that our fate is the same as all things that die - namely, death. But God chooses to 'pay the ransom' and receive us to Godself. It's interesting to find this image in the Hebrew Bible, where mostly the thought is that when we die, that's it, we are separated from God, so please God don't let me die. But here is a hint that Sheol / the pit may not be the ultimate fate, it may be possible that God will take us to Godself, and that our fate may not actually be that of the animals that perish. Interesting.
Of course for a Christian, the language of ransom resonates with the story of Jesus, who gave his life a ransom for many (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45).
I don't know that I necessarily find the language of ransom very helpful - for instance, who is the ransom paid to? it's not a metaphor that can be taken too far. anyway, the point is that all life ends in death, but God chooses to take us to Godself rather than leave us to that fate. And that is an image I can hold onto.
In the introductory verses of this Psalm are other words that resonate with me at present.
My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.
This strikes me as the prayer of the bard, the storyteller, of a people. Such a one is set apart to know intimately the wisdom contained in the stories of her people, to meditate so as to understand and speak wisdom from those stories into the present experience of the people. To be open to the mysteries of proverb and riddles; to hear wisdom in wordless ways.
Of course, I identify as a storyteller, that's how I see the role of Minister of the Word, for me at least. Also, though, I have been reading again a book recommended to me by a past mentor, The Circle and the Cross, by Caiseal Mor.
It's the first in a series of three books telling the story of the bards of Ireland, and the meeting of the ways of Eirinn with Christianity. It was recommended to me by this mentor who saw in me something of the bard who travels among the people telling the stories, singing the songs, leading rituals for the important moments in life.
And so, as often happens in life, the stories we read, the Sacred Story, and the story of our life resonate to lead us to understanding of ourselves, the Sacred and our world.