Saturday, June 11, 2011

Of Charlotte's Web and Psalm 34

As readers probably know by now, I don't come up with  deep exegesis of the psalms of the Divine Office. What usually happens to me when I read the office, is that a single line pops out at me. I'm afraid the lines I notice tend to be the sort that would look nice on Hallmark/ Dayspring merchandise. Inspirational. Feel Good. Because that is where I am in my spiritual life. Not very  deep into the Interior Castle. And probably never will be in this life. But that is okay, since all of  you who visit here  are probably in the same boat. This blog is Divine Office for lay people.

Daytime prayer, which usually gives us one Psalm divided into 3 sections, today gives us Psalm 34.  (Satuday Week III).  And my Hallmark moment today occurred when I read, look towards him and be radiant; let your faces not be abashed.  I must have read this verse hundreds  of times in the last 20 years. This is the first time I  saw it.

My first reaction was to imagine myself gazing towards the rising sun, feeling the warmth, rejoicing in the light,
and becoming, myself, radiant with its reflected light. It's a wonderful metaphor, and the dictionary supports it. The first definition is literal: "sending out light, shining brightly", the second is the spiritual derivative," emanating great joy or love."

My second thought--which again shows I am still in the driveway of the Interior Castle--was to remember that "radiant" was one of the words Charlotte wove into her web to build up Wilbur's image. She had seen a detergent ad with the words "with new radiant action".  She told Wilbur to run around and do some flips, to see whether his action could be honestly described as radiant. After Wilbur's performance, Charlotte felt  his action was at least "interesting", but when Wilbur declared, "I feel radiant", Charlotte agreed to describe him as such  in her web.

My third thought was about Pentecost, which is with us this weekend. Although this psalm is from the monthly psalter, rather than handpicked for the feast, it works beautifully, since the Fire of God's love is nothing if not radiant.

Conclusion: Look to the Lord, keep my eyes, my thoughts fixed on His goodness, mercy and love rather than my  weakness, sinfulness, ineffectualness. My face will not be abashed if I concentrate on His face. And in  some degree, the love and joy emanating from Him will in turn emanate from me. That's what the Holy Spirit does.