Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prayer of an Abolitionist

So, apparently country songs make me cry. Even the stupid ones. I had no idea.

I used to listen to country music all the time [I am from Greene County, VA]. But, when I fell in love with hip-hop [and yes, it was a love affair] I sort of blew off country. Part of that had to do with my obsession with being cool [country music is so last decade].

Anyhoo. Recently, I figured out that I am, in fact, not very cool at all [I'm hot, tho . . .] One cannot be cool and write words like "anyhoo" and "backside" with a straight face.

Whilst I adjust to this new realization I have decided to give country another go-round. And what do you know? I can barely get through one song without bawling my eyes out.

That is so not cool.

Anyhoo.

Last week while I was in Charlotte my friend, Amie, lent me a book about spiritual disciplines entitled The Sacred Way by Tony Jones. Today I tried one out.

I've read through about 5 of them [there are 16 in the book]. I've read through Silence and Solitude, Sacred Reading, The Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer and Meditation. I chose to practice Sacred Reading for my first venture into the world of spiritual disciplines. I had no intention of blogging about it before hand [hello? I'm getting married in like 2 1/2 weeks, what else would I talk about?]. But, the events that unfolded in my quiet time lent themselves to a blog.

There are 4 parts to Sacred Reading [also known as Lectio Divina]: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. I chose Psalm 90 because I had marked it as my favorite psalm some time ago [and then all but forgot about it]. I read out of The Message [as suggested by Mr. Jones [he also recommended the New Jerusalem Bible, but I didn't have that].

This is the text I read:

A PRAYER OF MOSES, MAN OF GOD

1-2 God, it seems you've been our home forever;
long before the mountains were born,
Long before you brought earth itself to birth,
from "once upon a time" to "kingdom come"—you are God.

3-11 So don't return us to mud, saying,
"Back to where you came from!"
Patience! You've got all the time in the world—whether
a thousand years or a day, it's all the same to you.
Are we no more to you than a wispy dream,
no more than a blade of grass
That springs up gloriously with the rising sun
and is cut down without a second thought?
Your anger is far and away too much for us;
we're at the end of our rope.
You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed
since we were children is entered in your books.
All we can remember is that frown on your face.
Is that all we're ever going to get?
We live for seventy years or so
(with luck we might make it to eighty),
And what do we have to show for it? Trouble.
Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.
Who can make sense of such rage,
such anger against the very ones who fear you?

12-17 Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we'll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we've seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you're best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

I read it over and over. There were parts that brought tears to my eyes. "Surprise us with love at daybreak" stood out to me. As did, "We've seen enough evil to last a lifetime." It was so sad. I couldn't figure out why I had been so struck by this passage as to dub it "my favorite." I thought about my dad. I thought about Darfur and human trafficking. I praised God for the blessings in my life.

As I read and re-read the text I thought about Moses. He was scolding our Creator. That went against everything I had been taught. And yet, here it was, in the Bible. It appeared to be coming from a place of desperation. I thought about the International Justice Mission and the people of the Polaris Project and Night Light. The scripture seemed to be a prayer of an abolitionist.

OMG.

Moses. Moses was the abolitionist. I began to weep. I want to say I stayed there to savor the moment, to soak in this knowledge I'd been blessed with. I didn't. I mean, I did for a minute. But I was just so excited.

I asked God if I could blog this experience. I believe He gave me His blessing.

I want to be an abolitionist when I grow up. I hope I grow up soon.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

It's so funny that you should post about the Lectio Divina...I just ran across that phrase while perusing the religion section at the local library. (I finally got a library card. You know, a month before I move back to Charlotte.)

I will have to see if they have this book at the library. I think I'd like to check it out.

P.S. I RSVP'd to your bachelorette party yesterday. I am SO EXCITED. Miss you! Let me know if I can do anything to help you out in the next few weeks - I know it'll get crazy!