Tired of broad strokes

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.

0903031033a A soul like David’s. He describes it “like a weaned child resting¬†against his mother.” A soul as calm as a child comfortable in the presence of relationship, not food source.

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.”

 

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “Tired of broad strokes

  1. “If I don’t worry, if I don’t get angry–who will?” You’re right, those disquiet the soul. But we must take care.

    “If I don’t love them–who will?” can become a soul-disquieting quest as well. So much need, so few resources, I’m not doing enough…

    “We HAVE to raise more money this year. The kids depend on us.” “I HAVE to run today. My streak’s on the line, people are watching.”…and suddenly a thing of peace and beauty becomes a thing that disquiets the soul.

    Perhaps even in small things:

    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.

    Like

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