Reflections on Faith - Psalm 139 -- I knew you when you were formed in the womb - September 2006

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September 25, 2006
This Week 's Reflection:


We close out this month of Reflections on my favorite Psalm – 139. While I am not quoting all of it in these weeks, here are some meaningful words (to me at least) from this prayer to the All-knowing and Ever-present God.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works. My very self you knew – my bones were not hidden from you. When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.”

My dear mother died about twelve years ago, may God rest her soul. I have often said that we had an ‘oil and water’ relationship… meaning that we didn’t blend real well as adults. I loved her dearly in my later years – but she was pretty strong and opinionated and disliked many of the choices I had made in life. (Some of her disapproval was quite warranted I might now add!]. The point of sharing this is that my Irish mom wasn’t very affirming. Psalm 139 reminds me that I came from her womb – those words about me being made in secret and fashioned in the depths of the earth – they are beautiful and figurative language for the womb – stressing the hidden and mysterious plan of God at work there inside of her body. God was most affirming because he consented to my life – to placing me in my mom’s womb. So, while parental discipline and correction is most important – vitally necessary – it need be done in a way that affirms the goodness and beauty of the person and the soul that God has granted to each of us. And although my gratitude – my expression of love didn’t mature until much, much later – I now pray for mom (and dad and brother and others) virtually every day of my life. In fact – this may sound strange – but a few years ago, I traveled to the cemetery where the folks are buried – and I knelt before their headstone – and I prayed in reparation for my youth and arrogance… and I prayed in gratitude for their participation in God’s plan. I then invited them to join me in a long drive heading towards a family reunion. They were with me in spirit, I’m sure. And we had a grand visit!

Lord of all creation – Lord of the marriage of my parents – Lord of my mother’s womb – I thank you most especially for the gift of life that you passed on to me through them. Help me each day to recognize that your hand – your invisible hand has fashioned every step and action that I’ve done when done in accordance with your will. And help me to honor that Commandment which enjoins me to Honor Father and Mother. Amen.

September 18, 2006
This Week 's Reflection:


Last week, I started a series of Reflections on the Psalm that I love and enjoy the most – Psalm 139. Here are some additional thoughts from it:

“Where can I hide from your Spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? If I ascent to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in Sheol (the darkest of the regions), you are there too. If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand (will) holds me fast. And if I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light – Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.”


Last week – our reflection had a word – a term about God. It is the word IMMANENT. It means that God is intimately close to us. In a homily, I once told the story of a lady that I knew who was an occasional addict. When she would start a drinking binge – she would close all of the mini-blinds covering her windows. She would not answer her door, and she wouldn’t respond to the telephone. She went into the Sheol of addictive loneliness. But God was there with her… with his arm around her. Asking her – begging her to respond to his love. After several years and some weakened heart episodes, she surrendered to the Author of love… the Creator of light. That lady is deceased now – but I bet she is in the presence of that light – the shining light that we all seek in our lives… even in the times when we try to hide in the darkness of sin or self-pity, or in the arms of someone else that we shouldn’t be embracing.

You Lord are the Creator of light and yet I routinely want to close the blinds of my heart and mind and not acknowledge your presence. But because of who you are – the way you have been – I do recognize that you really are there… in fact you are here when I’m in my darkened place. In fact – it’s even a little bit dark right now. Shine the light of your love on me again and again. Perhaps I’ll soon see it. Perhaps I’ll soon come to understand that what you offer is so much more powerful than any busy-ness or booze or relationship or that I try to surrender to. Like on the Easter morning – I want to come into the light of a new day with you. Each and every time. Amen.

September 11, 2006
This Week 's Reflection:


The one Psalm that I most often turn to is 139… to The All-knowing and Ever Present God. For today and for the next few reflections I’d like to stay just with Psalm 139. Let me know if you find it comforting for you as well.

“Lord, you have probed me, you know me; you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me, and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.”


Someone described the Psalms as the GYMNASIUM OF THE SOUL! I like that – I remember that because my faith… my spirit… my ‘fidelity’ to God – these are like the poetry and music and emotions and stories told in the Psalms. Sometimes I’m busy and distracted. Sometimes I’m pumped up and looking at God’s handiwork spread so majestically over the Continental Divide. Sometimes I’m all but tearful at the purity and loveliness of a newborn baby. Sometimes I haven’t been faithful to the love found in God’s Commandment.

And what I have noticed is that certain Psalms can quiet my spirit… drawing me closer to the Holy Spirit… to peace and serenity. Calling me to remembrance… to awareness of God’s Immanence. He is here… there… everywhere. In a sense he swam in the amniotic fluid with me. He helped me breathe at birth. And as I type these words – may it please him that I believe they are his words made available through Psalm 139… You Lord are the First Cause and the Reason that I am where I am today. In fact, the breath I just exhaled was a gift from you. Psalm 139 reminds me of this. Thank you Lord for the Psalmist. He or she was your gift some thousands of years ago. But that person helped me today. And I’m a little more settled today because of those words. Amen.

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