I recently returned from our annual clergy retreat. There was a speaker and a schedule, but these things were punctuated by extended times of silence. We woke in silence. We ate in silence. Even our moments of free time—where the schedule is lax and there is nothing to do, silence was held. I did a variety of things in these times. Sometimes I napped. Other times I read. If it was nice out, I will go for a walk.
During this last retreat, I took advantage of this silent space to sit in my room and do Lectio Divina with Psalm 150. Lectio Divina has become a practice of that I have grown to appreciate very much in my spiritual life. The habit of slowing myself down, and allowing the words of the scripture (read 4 times slowly) to sink deep, deeper, and deeper still into my life, has awakened and informed my walk with God in profound ways.
Don’t get me wrong, not every time spent in Lectio Divina provides awe-struck inspiration. Sometimes it is simply a time of silence. Such was the case for my 30 minutes sitting with Psalm 150. Nothing earth-shattering took place. No epiphanies, no visions, no grand insights into the nature of God or the life of faith. My time in Lectio Divina was simply a pleasant and soothing time reading this Psalm.
But then I woke up at 2:51am.
Almost as if I was roused to wake, my eyelids sprang open and my mind raced with a multitude of questions, all inspired by the Psalm. Clearly that the words of the Psalm had not left me, or rather, the voice of the Lord had not left me. During my waking hours, I had attempted to hold the words of the Psalm with me. Now it seemed that the words of the Psalm were holding me. I could not get my mind off the questions that seemed to come racing in, I had to wake up and write them out.
What does it mean to praise the Lord?
What does it mean to praise the Lord in his sanctuary – in those holy spaces of our lives defined not by brick or mortar but by the mighty Spirit of our God?
What does it mean to see all of life as being lived under the dome of the heavens, so that we are always called to lift our heads in wonder and praise?
What does it mean to praise God in such times when we are arrested by the hand of God pressed in upon our lives, where the awesome greatness of God is both inspiring and terrifying at the same time?
What does it mean to praise the Lord through the different soundtracks of life;
In times of regal trumpets, of processions and glorious excitement?
In times of lute and lyre, subdued movements of mourning and sadness?
In the times of tambourine and dance, times of joy and festivity, laughter and happiness?
In the times of string and pipe, wherein we are called to stand motionless before the Lord?
What does it mean to praise the Lord when our cymbals are rung in celebration and triumph or when they crash in upon themselves, adding only noise to the din of chaos that sometimes surrounds our lives?
What does it mean to praise the Lord, not as an act done in a place, or in a time, but as something united to our breath, a movement of the soul by which our lives become the Hallelujah to our God?
I have no answers. If you do, I would love to hear them. But truth be told, I don’t think figuring out the ‘right’ answer to these questions was the point of my early morning meditations. These are not problems I need to answer. Rather, I feel called to sit with these questions, awaiting the time when God will bring to my life such resolutions. Perhaps it is in holding these questions that I find I will truly live out the answers.
May the Lord bless you as you work out these answers in your own Christian life. Praise the Lord!