Saturday, 8 October 2011

Psalms, prayer and a dream


I’m really enjoying Openings, a daybook of saints, psalms and prayer (Larry James Peacock) (available from MediaCom). I don’t spend even half an hour with it usually, but since I moved my papasan chair into my room with my table, which I’ve decorated with monet prints from diaries and calendars, I have finally found my way into a daily rhythm of sitting with psalms in stillness. The book has for each day a person to remember, a passage of scripture (usually from the psalms), a reflection for contemplation and some suggestions for spiritual practices. It’s one page per day. Tiny criticism is the usa-centricity of it, but one writes for one’s own context and that’s the author’s context. It’s not overpowering, the people for remembering do come from places other than America regularly enough, and even when the reflections centre on education and teachers in September which is out of context for an Australian academic year, it’s still helpful guidance to remember the people who have taught us and given us the gift of mentoring, whatever time of year it is.
At the moment, the book is guiding the reader through psalm 119, the longest chapter in the bible. Its celebration of God’s way / teaching / law / commandments is worth taking time to savour. God’s way of love has been a thread woven through much of my reflections with Belair this year, and psalm 119 seems to hold some clue, some kernel of aha that might reveal itself to me in time, about living that way. You know. It’s like there’s this question in the back of my mind, probably inspired by this being my first placement as a minister, about how we live, as individuals and as a community, committed to God’s way of love. What shapes our living? What guides our discerning? It’s the story of God, the story of God’s relationship with creation and in particular humanity throughout time. If we can steep ourselves in that story – that guidance, teaching, covenant – it will shape our living. Of course I see it through the lens of story. I guess you could name it something else if you were an artist (you’d talk about painting the picture), or a cook or host (you’d talk about the feast and welcoming), a teacher or nurturer (you’d talk about instruction and wisdom), or a healer (you’d talk about healing, wholeness, reconciliation). For me it is story. if we know this story as well as we know our own story – for the story of God is our story – we will live out of that story as we live out of the story of all our experiences that have shaped who we are. And this is a story of healing reconciling welcoming nurturing beautiful love. Such a story shapes whole people and communities of care, of wisdom, of reconciliation, of love.
I just want to say this over and over again to my community, to anyone - everyone! It is a dream towards which I feel compelled, pulled, drawn, enticed. I think this is God’s dream. I think this is the dream Jesus is describing when he tells his stories of the kingdom of God. Oh, it makes me shiver to imagine living this dream!
So I might not spend that long sitting down in silent contemplation each morning with this book, but sitting down with it each morning is sparking the prayers and thoughts and dreaming, and inspiring my living. 

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