When I was at school, part of religious education was learning by rote significant biblical texts, of which this was one. Looking back, it was not a very positive learning experience as we never considered the texts together, we just rhymed them off unthinkingly. On the plus side it became one of my biblical reference points, but it was a very long time before I stopped to contemplate the magnanimity, the depth and the import of these words. Perhaps it only happens when we need to hear it most.
This short texts showers us with God’s goodness, and we need to clear the space to receive it and let it change us from the inside out. Sometimes in the busyness of our everyday life, we forget that ‘God is waiting to be gracious to us’ as Isaiah says.
One example of this for me would be finding it hard to forgive myself, and I have lived with the words of a wise man who said: “Never rise from your prayers without knowing that you are forgiven.” But too often and for too long I would add a “Yes, but…”
I know, too, how hard it can be to forgive, especially when the ‘attack’ has felt unjustified or untrue. Meister Eckhart has helped me with these words: “We are to move from letting go to letting go into God”. And the dynamic shift into the depths of Love has allowed me to both forgive and to be, and feel, forgiven. Consider which line of the Psalm it is which comforts or challenges you most, and live with it today, allowing God to show you his generosity.
“Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.” (Traditional Celtic Blessing)
1-2 O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!
3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.