This morning when I turned to the lectionary, I liked what I read. Let me remind you that a lectionary is a list of daily readings, often biblically focused, but this is not necessary. Since I am an oblate (in effect, a lay person) with the Benedictine monastery, I use that lectionary. I like this because I know that I am reading daily what my Benedictine monks are also reading.
It helps me in a couple of ways. In the first place it helps me feel connected to the monks with whom I have chosen to associate. I know that I will never be a monk. I am too old. I have a wife and two grown daughters. I probably am too much a person of the world to give up and give over the kinds of things necessary to go the monastic route. And I am ok with that. To be a monk is a very special calling…and I don’t have that. I will not be a monk, but I can be monastic. In my own way I can live “monk-like.” And so reading their daily lectionary is one way to participate.
The second way reading the lectionary helps me is to keep me devotionally honest. On my own I don’t always do very well. It is easy to come up with reasons not to bother with some prayer and reflective time. I know some people who can do it as effortlessly as they eat and drink at meal times. But for some reason, it is not that routine for me. I still need some push---some guidance and assistance to pull off the daily engagement. So thanks be to the lectionary.
So this morning I began the lectionary reading. The first selection was from Psalm 108. I like the translation that is used in this particular reading. The Psalmist says, “My heart is ready, O God…” (108:1) That is a perfect way to embrace the morning, especially if I could really say, “my heart is ready, O God.” But I was not sure I was up to saying that this morning. If truth be told, it might be more honest to say, “my heart is not ready, O God.” So what do I do now?
It seems to me that spiritually I normally have an option. I can be honest or I can fake it! We probably face this option more than we care to admit. When I am honest, I know there are numerous mornings when I get up and try to get into the lectionary, get into some prayer time, and perhaps, some time in meditation. The operative word here is “try.” I “try” to get into the devotional mode, but I don’t actually make it. Instead of really doing it, I diddle. I fiddle with the words. I piddle with some kind of prayer. But, it is all pretty shallow.
Other days I manage much better. I don’t know why this is true. It might be my own centeredness, but I suspect it might really be a form of grace that I was given. Whatever the case, I am thankful. I like those mornings. I want to make more of an effort to arise and say, “My heart is ready, O God---my heart is ready.” Perhaps that is the real key for me. Strive to become “ready.” Surely, I can do that much.
The next line of Psalm 108 demonstrates what one is capable of when that person is ready. The Psalmist says, “I shall sing and make music.” Part of me has to laugh. When I am ready---spiritually speaking---I don’t usually sing and make music. I ordinarily am not a music-maker. Oh, I like to sing, but I don’t do it very well. And I don’t play any instrument. So I have a self-perception that I am not musically inclined and, certainly, not gifted. But this takes music making too literally. What if the Psalmist is speaking metaphorically?
For the moment, let’s opt for metaphor. When the Psalmist “sings,” what the Psalmist means is that my life makes harmony. My life can bring peace and joy to the situation. My life can introduce melody to the sometimes chaos of modern life. My life can have a “beat” to it. This kind of metaphorical singing has a centering effect. If I am centered, then I am focused and likely have more energy for the task of living. This morning I do want to “sing” like that!
And when my heart is ready, O God, I also shall make music. I can be the music-maker in a world of noise and bedlam. This metaphor of music-maker can be a kind of ministry. It is not specific. It requires no ordination. And ordinary people can do it. When our hearts are ready, O God, then we begin to sing and make music.
O God, my heart is ready…