A reflection on Psalm 131
I want a quieted soul.
Not a slug-like soul, unable to respond quickly. Not a blob-of-oatmeal-like soul, passionless and benign by design. Helpful, yes, for heart-health and non-irritating for the gluten-resistant, but not noted for controlled creativity.
I want a soul which, though capable of sleep-destroying worry and relationship-demolishing anger, has learned restraint.
David says that he has composed and quieted his soul. He has taken intentional steps to bring calmness, as if it is something that he had some control over.
He gives us his strategy in one compound sentence:
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
The other day, Nancy quit reading an article mid-screen. It was an article raising more worry about how things are horrible and getting worse, about how institutions are falling apart.
You know the kind of article. Regardless of which side of any issue you are on, you know the kind of article.
What is so compelling to me about Nancy’s action is that it was a soul-quieting action. She was walking away from an author’s broad-stroke-right-answer. She was turning away from an invitation to the kind of pride which says, “If I don’t worry about it, who will? If I don’t get angry, who will?”
I know that I have responsibilities to follow what Jesus says. I am called to love God with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind and all my strength. I am called to love you, my neighbor. And I confess that I cannot do any of those things when my heart is divided by fear and anger and anxiety about what might happen in the highest reaches of political power.
I have to follow David’s lead. To have a quieted soul. And Nancy’s. To turn away. And then to invite people, as he did Israel, to “hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.”