Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’

“Meaning does not come from what we do. It comes from what we are. If we are lovers of beauty, then beauty will fill us all our days. If we are committed to justice, then justice will drive us past all fatigue or failure. If we are devoted to building human community, then we will find meaning in the people whose lives we touch. It’s when we are driven by nothing other than our daily schedules that life becomes gray, listless, and dour.

Life happens quickly but the meaning of it comes into focus only slowly, slowly, slowly. The challenge is to keep on asking ourselves what it is.” These words are taken from author and Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister, in Songs of the heart, Reflections on THE PSALMS.

She offers a simple and profound book of poignant and challenging reflections on twenty five of the 150 songs of praise found in the psalms. Each of the twenty-five chosen reflections offer a spiritual oasis away from the stresses of a world that demands more than the human soul can sometimes bear and have rich meaning for people today.

In my memoir, Journey Girl, Steps in Secrets and Sanctuary, I too offer at the beginning of each chapter a brief pause for the reader that is like the spiritual oasis Joan Chittister speaks of. I call them Islands of Silence. They are easy and accessible to the at-home mother who needs a private pause from combined child-care, taxi driver, medical emergencies and unending upkeep of home responsibilities.

They are equally beneficial for the students of all ages (we are all students of life) and business and corporate ladder climbers who can find an instant cubby-hole within to take stock and quiet the busy and overworked mind.

The first Island of Silence I offer in Chapter One is…..


The Breath
The Easiest of All Practices of Consciousness
Wherever God lays his glance life starts clapping.

Your breath is an Island of Silence that is with you at all times. You cannot live without it. A baby’s first important work to do when he/she arrives and separates from the maternal umbilical cord is to… breathe.

There are many meditative practices that focus on different ways to engage with your breath for stress relief and relaxation, but taken down to its simplest level, one may just choose to watch one’s breath.

If you don’t want to go to a gym, if you are not ready to engage in Pilates or Yoga (where the attention is put on the breath), you are perfectly free to sit comfortably alone, turn your thoughts inward, seek the quiet and simply breathe… in… out… in… out.

You will see this Island of Silence will come to you and you will appreciate the restoration it gives. Beautiful scenery will not take your breath away. It will give you more breath.
If you don’t wish to sit, you may walk in one of your favorite landscapes, amidst flowers and trees, birds, and animals, still focusing on your breath coming in… going out… coming in… going out.

You may be stuck in traffic with things to do, but still… you are stuck in traffic and you can breathe in… breathe out… breathe in… breathe out.

Return to this Island of Silence many times during the day. It is perfectly fine to take short stay vacations of breathing tranquility. It is low cost, efficient, and brings rewards of renewed energy and purpose. Turn your attention to your breath daily and give this a try.

This is an Island of Silence that begins the first chapter of an at-risk emergency birth where the child is saved, yet the young twenty-nine year old mother dies. Life and death do, indeed, both happen quickly. I am the child who lived. The meaning of it and the grace held within the loss of my mother all happened very, very slowly


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I have decided to start my quiet prayer time in the morning with two short readings. I will read one Psalm per day because it entertains my creative, poetic muse and gives me imagery and verse to ponder.

My overall impressions of the Psalms, the longest book of the Bible, is that the authors (this book of hymns was written over a long period of time by different authors) were either pleading wholeheartedly, begging mercilessly for forgiveness and salvation or praising their God to the highest heavens, exalting all signs on earth as witness to God’s great power and glory.  There is little in-between.

This fits in with some of the emotional highs and lows I have known in my life.

Then, I am also going to read a chapter or part of a long chapter of one of the gospels each morning. The reason is that I want to, once again,  focus on the words and the actions of Jesus.  Then I want to apply this to what I think I believe about Jesus and see how this plays out in my daily life.

To be sure, I don’t count all of this reading and meditation as holy time.

For instance, I am reading Mark’s account of the holy word. In yesterday’s selection, Jesus called Andrew and Simon at Lake Galilee to “Come with me”, gathering up James and John, sons of Zebedee a little further down the road.  Then he began teaching and healing people at the synagogue.

The people are amazed (yes, they even used that overused word in the Bible) and begin to wonder who this man is who calls out evil spirits from people.  News about Jesus quickly began to spread.

So today, I pick up the story, and Jesus has left the synagogue and goes straight to the home of Simon where it says Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Upon being told this, Jesus went to her, helped her up, and vanished the fever

Ok, I’m distracted now. First by the fact that she was Simon’s mother-in-law and right away I begin wondering about two things (actually three things, which I will get to).

First, if that is the case, Simon Peter is married and I wonder: What happened to Peter’s spouse and wife as he increasingly “hangs with Jesus”, and is groomed to be the founder of Christ’s church on earth after Jesus is gone. How did that affect his marriage; did he continue it, or abandon it to spread the faith across the land? What became of Peter’s wife? If he was about the gospel of love, then surely he had to continue it in his home.

Well, I don’t know the answers to these things. Maybe some bible scholar does whom I have not heard nor read yet. If I’ve been told any relating historical facts to this, I don’t remember them and I am sure there was never a question with a required memorized answer to it in the foundational Baltimore Catechism.

Secondly, I also wonder why the Catholic Church has made such a thing about priests not being married when the first  leader chosen by Christ was married. In fact, he was found to be so rock-solid, even with his many character flaws, that Jesus would declare: “Upon this rock, I will build my church”.

Perhaps I should read scripture in a study group, rather than alone.

But the ending of the sentence where Simon’s mother-in-law is healed throws me off track from holiness and spiritual inquiry.  Apparently, immediately upon recovering from her illness and fever from the touch of Jesus’ hand, she…..”began to wait on them.”  

What? No recovering respite? Ahhh, the long road women have travelled!

Now, I am no longer pondering the scripture, I am hearing the words to Jesus Christ Superstar start on my internal spiritual  itunes download.

“Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Superstar Do you think you’re what they say you are?

(Don’t you get me wrong, now) Don’t you get me wrong
(Only want to know) Only want to know.”

I pray, “Jesus, I really do want to know.” Just as Judas pleads to know  who you are in this super hit song of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical. I continue in prayer, “That’s why I’m reading your Word. I don’t want you to get me wrong, I only want to know. And that is why I listen for you….always.”

Now, I’m thinking of my daughter and her theater time coming up as she prepares for the musical direction of Jesus Christ Superstar in their community theater production. The performance and the music made a deep impression on me in the 1970s. I look forward to experiencing it in the new millennium, more than thirty years later.

I see on the lyrics page I can download the ringtone on my cellphone.

I want to do that. I’ll have to wait for my grandson to show me how.

My meditation will continue each time my phone rings. Maybe that counts for something?


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