Thursday of 4 Lent

My Soul Waits for the Lord – Psalm 130

“My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning…”

Psalm 130:6

There is a phenomenon called the overview effect which everyone who has traveled in outer space has experienced.  Once an astronaut has escaped the atmosphere and is able to look back upon the earth, his or her perspective is dramatically altered.  One common theme is, “there are no lines.”  The space farer cannot see the artificial boundaries that we create and draw on our maps.  Another is that the planet itself looks small and vulnerable.  When Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon and looked back at the earth he said, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”  There is a sense among all of those who have shared this experience that things which we have considered important, even essential, to our lives, fade in the light of this new perspective.

As we make our home in the New Jerusalem, we all need a transformed perspective.  We need an overview effect so that we can begin to see the world around us, and those who live in it, from the perspective of God.  We need to see the lines that we have drawn between ourselves and others disappear, and see the other as God sees him or her.

One of the reasons it is important to take time to pause and immerse ourselves in quiet time with God, whether it is a spiritual retreat at a monastery, or simply a regularly scheduled silent time apart from the hectic busyness of daily life, is that it helps us get that perspective.  As I am writing this meditation, I am on a “retreat”.  But this retreat is VERY different from any other I have taken.  I am at home.  Because of the pandemic, the monastery is not fully open to guests, and it has been that way for two years.  Yet, I needed this time away, to get silent, to be with God and hear His voice.  I needed, like the Psalmist, to “wait for the Lord.”  It is not ideal, but it is quiet time with the Lord, a waiting upon Him.

In verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 130, the Psalmist is declaring that he puts his trust in God’s forgiveness.  He knows that help will come from the Lord, and from no other source.  Three times in those two verses the Psalmist declares, “I wait for the Lord.”  Dwelling in the New Jerusalem demands a transformed heart and a change in perspective.  That transformation is an on-going process, and requires patience and accountability.  We cannot see ourselves objectively, and so we need to be able to be held accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ for how we are living our life in Christ.  And we need to wait patiently on the Lord as He works His change in us.

One of my prayers during this retreat is that, at this time in our history when tensions are high and those invisible dividing lines which we draw between our selves and our neighbors have become more numerous and distinct, God will give me an overview effect.  That I may see those around me with the eyes of Christ.  That I may see, with the eyes of Christ, the harried store clerk, the impatient driver, those who differ from me politically, economically, socially, even theologically.  God give me the eyes to see them with the Love that you have for them.  May the dividing wall of hostility disappear, and may I love them with the Love that you have shown for me.  Like the watchman who awaits the dawn, may my soul wait for the Lord to show His mercy.  In Him we can all put our hope.

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