Archive for November, 2008

I said, ” Let me remember my song in the night; 
let me meditate in my heart.” 
Then my spirit made a diligent search …

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What God is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You redeemed …

Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great water;
your footprints or unseen.

Commentary: In Psalm 77, the writer reveals the secret life, his inner life with God. For a singer, for a poet, to lose his song in the night is a great sadness heaped upon other sadnesses. But here, the psalmist determines to remember his song. It is not that he will sing a new song, as he has in the past, but that he will remember his song that once was new and find consolation.

He’ll not only remember his song but the deeds of the Lord and all His wonders. The memory of past redemption comforts and consoles the psalmist even more deeply than his own old song.

When he speaks of God’s path through the sea, he speaks of something impossible for human senses to perceive but something spiritually necessary for the human spirit to receive as truth. God’s footprints may be invisible … but God did walk on water.

The Gospels record that Peter saw Jesus walking on the water toward him in a storm. Peter said that if he were truly seeing Jesus, Jesus should command him to get out  of a boat. Jesus invited Peter out on the water, and Peter accepted the invitation.

What are the invitations of God in your life? What are the invitations in mine? What storms are troubling our boats?  

How can we find the memory of songs and the wondrous works of God in our souls that might give us the courage to step out  on the water?  

Even when we do not see it, there is a path.

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When at night I await the beloved guest,
Life seems to hang by a thread.  “What is youth?” I demand
Of the room.  “What is honor, freedom, the rest, 
In the Presence of her who holds the flute in her hand?”

But now she is here.  Tossing aside her veil,
She considers me.  “Are you the one who came
To Dante, who dictated the pages of Hell
To him?” I ask her.  She replies, “I am.”

Anna Akhmatova (1924)
Trans. Lyn Coffin

Commentary:  Tomorrow, I’ll teach Dante’s Inferno for the 10th time. I will descend into hell again. In the role of Virgil, I will lead many pilgrims on the journey.

Every time I go down, I learn. Sometimes a lesson must be learned over and over again to be learned at all. There is a terrible sadness in that truth, and in that truth, a terrible gift.

I didn’t find the secret ring.
For days, I waited and guessed.
That tender captive, a song to sing,
Perished inside my breast.

Anna Akhmatova (1917)
Trans. Lyn Coffin

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