Our Plea for Salvation

OUR PLEA FOR SALVATION

READ:  Psalm 38:8,21,22

“I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquiet in my heart.  … Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me.  Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.” – Psalm 38:8,21,22 King James Version

salvationlightA prayer much used through the centuries by Benedictine monks ...”O Lord, come to my assistance; O God, make haste to help me.”  This prayer is a humble confession of our human need and our hope founded in the Compassionate Presence of God.  This prayer is a plea for salvation.

This month, I am reading my daily Psalms from the King James Authorized Version.  I thought I might like to revisit the elegant sound of that poetic language of yesteryear.  I especially loved how the King James translated that verse, “I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquiet in my heart.”  And this morning … I must confess … I awoke from my tortured night of fitful sleep, somewhat feeble and feeling most sorely broken.  Those who experienced my awakening hours can also testify that this old saint-in-the-making did a good deal of growling, even roaring a time or two … because of the disquiet in my heart!  Yes, Christians, retired pastors, and even Benedictine monks sometimes wake up growling and roaring.  I suppose it is an aspect of our human condition.

When I first arrived at Greyfriars’ Abbey, I was somewhat surprised by “how very human” were the monks.  In certain ways, the Brothers are more clearly human than those I have known outside the cloister walls.  This is because the virtues of authenticity and transparency of one’s life are so highly emphasized in the Benedictine community.  We are called to be “honest to God”.   Much like the Psalmist.  A remarkable characteristic of the Psalms is how they are so open and honest, confessing the state of their souls, whether that state be one of glorious praise and holiness or that state be one of emotional turmoil and mortal anguish.  Like the opening of Psalm 22, quoted by Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  The Psalmist reminds us … to bring to God … even the doubt and the anger, even the loneliness and the fear, even the tears and the sorrows that may be disquieting our hearts.

One day early on in my novitiate, the Abbot whispered to me, “You best approach Brother Caleb with caution and grace.”  With that the Abbot gestured toward the elderly Brother across the room.  And when I took the time to look … it was crystal clear that Brother Caleb was in distress.  The Abbot continued, “Brother Caleb suffers from migraine headaches from time to time, and when he does, he gets a bit testy.”  It happened that later that morning, I was asked to mop floors with Brother Caleb. Moments into our task, Brother Caleb turned to me and said, “Brother Anthony, you and the Lord will need to help me through this morning.”  And for my part, I did the best I could.

That was my first lesson in the beauty of the monastic community.  It is easy to see how the monastic life and the contemplative life might enhance one’s “divinity”, but even more so, I began to see how the monastic life and the contemplative life can enhance one’s “humanity”.  As time has gone by, I have found that the sacred covenant we keep with each other and with Christ gives us the freedom to openly deal with our human frailties without fear of judgement and rejection.  And not only is the fear of judgment and rejection set aside, and in its place a sincere trust that a listening, healing, understanding, supporting grace will deal with our human frailty.  And so over time … the disquiet within our souls … becomes less and less … and the healing and maturing of our human nature becomes more and more.

The other day … I spilled a bucket of dirty mop water over the just mopped floor.  I sensed the nearby Brothers were looking at me … and I saw that indeed they were.  Brother Caleb broke the silence with these words …“Brother Anthony, you usually mutter and fuss when you are frustrated.  We are just waiting for you do so.”  I smiled at the Brothers already knowing me so well … then I said, “I guess I do get angry when I am frustrated.” With that, Brother Caleb walked over and kicked that mop bucket for me, and we all laughed.  Then we all got to mopping.  And I felt loved.

Salvation appears in different forms to different people in different circumstances.  For the person drowning, salvation is a rescue from the depths.  For the person burdened with guilt, salvation is a cleansing mercy.  For the person feeling abandoned and all alone, salvation is a nearing and appearing of God’s Presence.  For the person fearing death, salvation is assurance of life to come.  For the person lost in the darkness, salvation is a guiding lantern.  For the person dying of thirst, salvation is cool water… For the person like you, salvation is   ………………………………..

.

A prayer much used through the centuries by Benedictine monks ...”O Lord, come to my assistance; O God, make haste to help me.”  This prayer is a humble confession of our human need and our hope founded in the Compassionate Presence of God.  This prayer is a plea for salvation.

Pax.

Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)

— Visit my poetry site, Willow Words, by clicking www.willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com .
Also visit my new Psalter site for a reading of the Psalms www.thepsalmsbybrotheranthony.wordpress.com

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