(First published November 17, 2014)
I was staring at Psalm 63. Not really reading it. Focusing was hard, early Saturday morning. So I was just staring. Some phrases are familiar to me. I’ve read this song before. It’s somewhat hopeful, somewhat mournful.
But you know that feeling when you can’t make your brain engage and you sit staring at the words, looking for traction?
O God, you are my God.
Earnestly I seek you.
my soul thirsts for you.
my body longs for you
in a dry and weary land.
And then I started to see something, peeking through a pile of leaves, moving just at the edges of my vision. I started thinking about an affirmation that was part of morning prayers for millennia-worth of generations. And started to feel a call and response happen across the years.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Oh God you are my God.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart Earnestly I seek you.
and with all your soul my soul thirsts for you
and with all your strength my body longs for you
In his last lecture, Moses gave the Israelites a simple core affirmation, words to tell their hearts when reminders became necessary. Jesus talked about it as the great commandment, and extended it a bit to how we related to others.
So I sat in my chair and thought about another writer sitting in a dry place, repeating words etched in his heart, but echoing in his ears. And he started conversing. He takes each phrase and turns it into a prayer, moving from command to lament.
“I do love you with my heart, I’m looking for you with desperation and dedication.”
And as I looked at the conversation between God and Moses and David, I found my heart drawn in.