the Lord makes me lie down...

In the midst of all business and busyness of life, we paused today at 12:10 pm for midday Eucharist.  It was just five of us - inconsequential in many ways given the grand scheme of things - but equally a time of blessing, too. A few new friends joined our small circle and they were clearly searching for a moment of rest. Two texts guided our gathering:  Psalm 23 and John 10:  22-30.

Seated in the Chancel of our cathedral like Sanctuary, surrounded by old chestnut and candles, we shared lectio divina.  And when I asked, "So what's this Psalm saying to you?" one person was clear: "The Lord MAKES us lie down... this isn't an invitation or an option. Sometimes God MAKES you lie down." Incredible. Nuanced and so wise. Think of all the times you are brought low. Or the moments you simply have to stop and rest. That's one of the reasons I cherish this Eucharist: real, lived spiritual wisdom breaks through in the sweetest ways. I have heard, prayed and loved this Psalm all of my conscious life, but never have I heard that truth before. (When I got home later in the day, I consulted Robert Alter's commentary on the Psalm where he writes: "The verb used here, hirbits, is a specialized one for making animals lie down; hence the sheep-shepherd metaphor is carefully sustained.")  A similar sense of God's living and loving presence emerged with the gospel text, too:  "Those who know me hear my voice and follow... and nothing can separate us from this bond of love." Nothing - not sin, not fear, not confusion or evil. Other words of encouragement and spiritual depth were lifted up. Beautiful.

Then we passed a sign of Christ's peace and gathered around the communion table for the Eucharistic Prayer. We use one adapted from the Community of Iona. We sing the "Sanctus," serve one another, close with prayer concerns and then sing a blessing:  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." It is often the highlight of my week.

As we readied ourselves to return to work, one of our new friends lingered. After carefully folding the liturgy to take home, she kept looking back at the Psalter. So I asked, "Do you want to take that with you? You can, you know?:  Stunned she replied, "Really?!? Sometimes I just need something to help me focus my mind..." We smiled and I replied, "Yeah? Me, too!" Maybe she'll return. Maybe not. Like the others, however, for at least a moment in time we each knew we were loved by God not because we had earned it, but because God's grace is so pure, complete and constant.

The day unfolded - there were problems to solve with a clogged sewer line, worries about caring for an old, old building, worries about our future and visits to loved one in a nursing home - and throughout it all I kept hearing, "The Lord makes me lie down... surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." On my drive home I noticed that the daffodils were up. The sun was warm. And for about 45 minutes, five of us shared a bit of peace.

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