Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Psalms

The Psalms
Fr. Dale Matson
As someone who is attracted to the Mystical writing of St. John and the linear intellect of St. Paul, the Psalms have been somewhat of an enigma for me. The Psalms have an affective quality, an emotional rhythm and an internal dialogue that is sometimes difficult for me to grasp. Is the Psalmist talking to himself, to God or is God talking to the Psalmist? Sometimes it seems to be all three. In our lectionary for yesterday (Psalm 32), the psalmist seems to be talking to himself in verse three. “While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,*because of my groaning all day long.” In verse five he seems to be talking to God. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you,* and did not conceal my guilt.” Yet verse nine seems to be God talking to the Psalmist. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go,* I will guide you with my eye.” The Psalm taken as a whole is a mini-Gospel dealing with transgression, un-confessed guilt, suffering, confession, forgiveness and deliverance.
In Morning Prayer we say the Psalms in courses (by the number of the day in the month) and we pause at the asterisk. There is even an occasional epiphany for me during the pause. “The Lord will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;* He will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102: 17). As I read this verse stopping to pause at the asterisk, I looked out the Chapel window to see homeless people gathering by the benches. I also looked at our two attorneys who had come to Morning Prayer before court and the thought occurred to me that we may be among the homeless also. All of this occurred during the pause for an asterisk.
There is a very human and humane quality to the Psalms. The range of emotion expressed there more than contains and expresses my own feelings. It is my hope and prayer that the Psalms will continue to offer consolation to me in a life no longer confident in my own strength increasingly asking for God’s strength and mercy. “For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;* my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:4) Amen.


Georgia said...

Perhaps the Psalms could be called 'Intimate, forthright conversations with God.'

or, in the current vernacular, 'Two-way Journaling.'

Dale Matson said...

The late Rev. Morton Kelsey called it active imagination in his book "Christopsychology". It's an excellent read if you like the Jungian understanding of the unconscious mind combined with Christianity.