Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Lenten Reflection for March 21, 2013

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore. (Psalm 131)

I now have an app on my smartphone that feeds news stories to me from several sources. Now I can get the news from a variety of perspectives. And I can learn about some of the dramas and dangers that make me feel anxious, angry, and afraid.

It’s interesting to me how news about environmental crises, wars, nuclear threats, political maneuvering, professional sports, and celebrity misbehavior can make us obsessively dependent. We end up feeling as though we need the information to feel like we matter, like we have a voice, like we are joining in with things that are not only disturbing, but that also feel too great and too marvelous for us.

The psalmist speaks of a heart not lifted up and eyes that are not raised too high. Is it a posture of defeat, or is it the recognition of helplessness in the scheme of things? Either way, we are given the image of the calmed and quieted soul being like a weaned child with its mother.

It’s an image rather strange to us, I think. But perhaps it is the picture of one who is no longer dependent on the drama of the nation. For the ancient Hebrews, their identity was tightly bound in the identity of the nation. There was no identity for them outside of Israel. The psalmist might have been speaking of being weaned from that national dependency.

We are so bombarded with information about world events that it is often overwhelming. Much of the information pertains to things over which we have no control, which creates even greater distress. Sometimes we need to be quieted. A lot of the time we need to be weaned from the drama.

It would be an incredible experience to remain aware of—and even, at times, to participate in—what is going on in the world while resting in our dependency upon God. I wonder what that would do to our anxiety and frustration levels?

O world, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.

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