It Is To You My Heart Calls
One of my trusted companions throughout each Advent Season over the last few years has been a little reader put together by the folks at Regent College called The Candle and the Crown. Each day there are two Scripture readings and short reflections by Regent faculty, alumni, and others—one for the morning and one for the evening.
Among the Scripture readings this week was the twenty-seventh Psalm, which has long been one of my favourite psalms. The combination of joyful, expectant hope, longing, and raw honesty has made this psalm a frequent destination for me. As with so many of the Psalms (and Scripture in general), I find that these ancient words narrate and interpret my own experience so many years later.
It is difficult to improve upon traditional English translations of this Psalm—phrases such as “the Lord is my light and my salvation,” “be gracious to me and answer me,” “do not hide your face from me,” and the stark and bracing “wait for the Lord” are powerful, resilient, and true. But it’s also interesting to periodically hear different renderings of these familiar words, these life-giving songs. Jewish poet Pamela Greenberg’s The Complete Psalms is one place I frequently go for a different perspective, and I have been meditating on her interpretation of Psalm 27 this morning. Here are few excerpts:
You are my light and my hope; whom should I fear? You are the strength of my life; before whom should I tremble? — Listen, God, to my voice when I call out. With compassion, answer my need. It is to you my heart calls, “Seek out my face,” because your face, God, is what I constantly search for. Don’t hide your eyes from me. Don’t push away your faithful in anger. You have always been my help. Don’t tear me out by my roots; don’t abandon me— for you are the one I count on for help. — Teach me, Source of Joy, your ways, and lead me down the level plain because of the dangers that surround me on every side. Don’t give me over to the breath of my fears. For distortions have risen up in the name of truth, they breathe out visions of destruction. If only I could believe that I would see God’s goodness in the land of the living… Keep up your hope in God. Strengthen your heart and sturdy it; keep up your hope in God.