I like reading a variety of things that help me on my daily spiritual trek through life. Help comes from many and, sometimes, odd venues. Daily newspapers, magazines, preparation for classes and even notes on the wall have provided inspiration over the years. I am thankful for the myriad of revelational sources. But among the lot, no doubt the biblical text still ranks right up there as very important.
I am not one who thinks every verse in the Christian Bible is significant. I am ok thinking that the Bible, as a whole, is inspired. But it is difficult for me to think every sentence or word is divinely inspired. That would require an extensive discussion, of course, on what “inspiration” means, how it happens, etc. I actually don’t have too much interest in that discussion and, certainly, have no interest in pursuing in here. Suffice it here to acknowledge that inspiration means to help, encourage, to light up your life. God certainly does that; but so do other people.
One of the best things I do for my daily spiritual trek is to follow the daily lectionary. A lectionary is pre-set readings to augment spiritual edification and growth. I choose to follow the one laid out for Benedictine monks. I appreciate that group of men and women who have dedicated their lives to something so focused and noble. I am sure any Benedictine would tell you it is quite possible to be a miserable monk, just like it is possible to be a miserable human being. But at least they are trying! And so am I!
One of the lectionary readings this morning came from Psalm 5. One of the things I like about the lectionary is the focus on the Psalms. There are always a few Psalms offered for the day. This continues to broaden me, since I grew up not seeing my own tradition do much with the Psalms. So each day I look forward to the Psalm selection.
Psalm 5 opens with these words: “Let my words come to your ears, O Lord…” When I read this, I smiled. What a wonderful image, I thought. I like the image that suggests God has ears. Why not, I reasoned. If I have words, surely there has to be someone to hear them. I have ears to hear. Everyone I know has ears to listen to me talk. Why not God? Fortunately, it is an image---a metaphor.
Of course, I do not think God literally has ears…at least, physical ears. But I began to reason more deeply. Actually it is not my physical ears---those lobes on the side of my head (called the pinna)---that enable me to hear. I appreciate those physical markers. Without them I would look odd. It is not that they are that beautiful, but since everyone has those ears, we come to assume that is “normal.” But I could whack off the physical ears and still hear.
I could still process the sound wave that comes into the holes in the side of my head. Thinking even more deeply, I suppose it is more true to say that my brain is my literal ear. The brain processes the sound waves to “make sense” of them. The brain determines what I “hear.” Until the brain gets it, a sound is simply airwaves translated into electrical signals.
So perhaps God is more like the brain than the outer ear (pinna). God is like a cosmic brain or Mind to Whom humans send words. God processes our words, hears our requests and begins to make sense of what we pray, ask, tell, plead, complain, etc. I think God hears us, but does not always hear us the way we want God to hear us.
For example, I have doubtlessly asked God to help me when, in fact, God knew I should actually help myself! God wants me to learn to be responsible and not a wimp! But let’s assume the words I send to the Lord make perfect sense. I believe God always stands ready to be present and to be helpful…whatever that means in the moment.
We all know there are times when life becomes difficult. At that time, we join the Psalmist in petitioning God to “hear my sighs.” Those sighs are sounds, too, but unlike words, we can only hope God knows what to do with them. If effect, I am asking God to help me in ways I can’t even imagine being helped. There certainly are times I am sure God knows what I need better than I know. Thank God!
As I begin my day, I use the words of Psalm 5:3: “Lord, listen to my voice in the morning; in the morning I stand before you and await you.” If I can practice standing before God and awaiting the Divine Presence to come to me, surround me, engulf me and transform me, then not only will the day go better, but my life will go very well. It seems simplistic and, perhaps, nonsensical. Most people just get on with life and do it on their own. But there is a secret (and it is not so secret). Life goes better if you just send a word into the ears of God.