Saturday, August 28, 2010

Keeping Death: Psalms and Conversion

The Rule instructs to keep death ever before us.

Death is the ultimate reminder that we are utterly dependent upon God in our existence and redemption and consummation. To face death is to keep it real. All of our plans, sifted through this lens, are more likely to be less ego-touched, less sin-touched, more concerned with doing God's will. Facing death daily is permission to slow down and not react and not devise. Facing death is wise guidance to first and always adore I AM, One Who Is Who causes us to be.

What is important and what is the dross or the minor is clarified. So does facing the tough stuff. If we face death, then, paradoxically we are free to live in the moment, face the tough stuff with firm gentleness, and not take ourselves so seriously about everything that we forget to laugh, love, live, and, in Blessed Julian's words, enjoy.

Death says, we need God. We cannot escape facing this reality.

We need God whose is the Creative Word ever speaking us into existence and the Holy Spirit ever bringing sustenance out of the chaos sin injects into life together in human social worlds and into our relationships with the whole of creation. God's Wisdom in Word and Spirit is always at work to order things to, in what Borg and Crossan have beautifully called, the share economy. God's economy given to us in Jesus Christ and to be lived by Christ's Body by the sustaining Spirit is at odds with all that would deny that we are interdependent upon one another for our daily bread, for the good things and tangible graces of life meant for all.

Conversion is not unrelated to conversation, especially conversation with God. And the Psalms are par excellence for recognition of conversion to our utter dependence upon God for our existence, redemption, and consummation. If we face death, we can face the ugliness in ourselves, hope to do so so that our actions are rooted in adoration, and where we fail, to ask for pardon and help:

Be compassionate, O God, as is your way;
in your great compassion wipe away my offenses.

Wash away my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sins.

For I know my transgressions,
and my offense is always before me.

Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your eyes.

You are just when you speak,
You make a fair ruling.

You search for truth deep within me,
You make known to me Wisdom hidden away. (Psalm 51)

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