Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What the Psalms Are Psaying (Part 4 of 2)

This is now getting ridiculous…although this is now my 300th post (woo!) and there is a major announcement at the end...I'm done with improperly fractioning my Psalms stuff)

What began as a simple me tripping over one verse in Psalm 42 has turned into this complicated exegesis of the chapter. And for those of you who are curious: an exegesis is not a film about Christ directed by Bryan Singer. Theological humor. Gotta dig it.

Anyway – Psalm 42 is now the passage I turn to when I get into my searching (“What am I supposed to do with my life?”) or waffling (“Why can’t I feel God?”) mode. Not that it gives me any concrete points or a little light goes off over my head when I read it, but as I stated before: it lets me know I’m not alone. Christians tend to look to certain spiritual giants found in the Bible, and although we intellectually “get” them, we also idolize them a bit. Case in point: David. Find me one Christian who doesn’t want to be described as David (a man/woman after God’s own heart) but who is unwilling to actually see him as a murderous, lecherous liar who turned away from God. We “get” at he was repentant, but we don’t really “get” that the loneliness and lament he expresses in Psalms also echoes our own voices at times. The millennium may have changed, but the pain tethers through the ages.

Psalm 42:7 (aka “the Shajena verse,” for reasons that may make her smirk) first got me all warm and fuzzy inside due to the imagery of nature the author uses. But then, I looked – well, deeper to see what was really going on in this verse and in the ones surrounding it.

Deep doesn’t just “call” to deep in the way that, for example, nature speaks to me or calls to me. I feel a genuine connectedness with the outdoors, and every time I spend time in a climate other than south Florida (where the only change in weather is from wet and hot to wetter and hotter) I feel…deeper. I breathe deeper. I see deeper. I experience life on a deeper level.

When I bean to study this passage deeper (Dear Santa: I need a thesaurus) I started ask myself two incredibly self-reflective questions: what am I intrinsically drawn to, and where do I find comfort and conversely challenge in that comfort?

I find that I am drawn to deeper things in pop and mass culture. Maybe it’s the Gen X-er in me, but I have never been all that attracted or even tolerant of things that get mass recognition: I find that the TV shows I watch and get enveloped in (LOST being the prime current example) have a depth to the story that was never found in shows like FRIENDS or GLEE, which in many ways reflect the pinnacle of mass pop culture. The bands I like are either fringe or have been heard by so few people that my wife thinks I make their names up (seriously: Absence of Ceramics WAS a real band); not because of the fact I like to be one of the “few” who are in the know (…well…) but more because the lyrics tell stories and weave a tapestry of images that burn into your mind. Do yourself a favor and go find some of the music by the choir or Mark Heard. You’ll understand.

In this verse, the word “deep” is actually the word “qara” in Hebrew. Now, I’ve already dissected the dickens out of this word in two previous entries (both hyperlinked for your reading enjoyment), so I won’t repeat myself here. BUT…”qara” basically means “to elicit a specific response.” The deep referred to in Psalm 42:7 isn’t “what deep thing gets you now,” but “what are you so tethered to, what speaks to you on so many levels that you can not escape it?” What are you joined to?

It’s also interesting to note that “qara” is also the word God used when He spoke – or called – the world into existence.

Name your depth.

Name your calling.

Give it birth. Speak it aloud.

Find what you are drawn to. Do not fight that drawing (like my ridiculous self has) and speak it to someone.

Remember: God even said “Let US create man in OUR image.” If God didn’t create or exist in a vacuum of isolation, why do we sometimes try so hard to. I don’t mean to say that creation was the result of committee work (although certain things like the platypus or Nancy Grace’s hairstyle might make you wonder), but instead: we are not alone.

Not in our questions.

Not in our callings.

Not in our depth.

Which is why I am committed to writing a book.

Finally.


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