By Ken Asel
A Reading from Psalm 31
1 In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Incline your ear to me;
make haste to deliver me.
3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
4 Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me,
for you are my tower of strength.
5 Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols,
and I put my trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy;
for you have seen my affliction;
you know my distress.
8 You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy;
you have set my feet in an open place.
9 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
and also my throat and my belly.
10 For my life is wasted with grief,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails me because of affliction,
and my bones are consumed.
11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and
even to my neighbors,
a dismay to those of my acquaintance;
when they see me in the street they avoid me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am as useless as a broken pot.
13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd;
fear is all around;
they put their heads together against me;
they plot to take my life.
14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O LORD.
I have said, “You are my God.
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
16 Make your face to shine upon your servant,
and in your loving-kindness save me.”
17 LORD, let me not be ashamed for having called upon you;
rather, let the wicked be put to shame;
let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be silenced which speak against
haughtily, disdainfully, and with contempt.
19 How great is your goodness, O LORD!
which you have laid up for those who fear you;
which you have done in the sight of all
for those who put their trust in you.
20 You hide them in the covert of your presence from those
who slander them;
you keep them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD!
for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a
22 Yet I said in my alarm,
“I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.”
Nevertheless, you heard the sound of my entreaty
when I cried out to you.
23 Love the LORD, all you who worship him;
the LORD protects the faithful,
but repays to the full those who act haughtily.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.
Several years ago I had cataract surgery. It did not hurt, and while the day was not a pleasant one, the results were rewarding. Recently, while my wife and granddaughter were still sleeping, I woke early. I made a cup of coffee and settled on the patio to watch the emerging sunrise still hours ahead. But then I noticed, as I have since my surgery, that if I look at just the right angle, I can see violet cubes, refractions from the operation (most likely). Before the sun rises and the animals in the garden scurry off to their next meal, I am treated to an unexpected light show.
A few weeks ago, I decided I would ask the doctor if the newly observed lights are in fact the result of the surgery. Now I am honestly not sure I want to know the answer. Being Irish, I rather hope the lights are fairies headed back to their homes before dawn!
Whatever it is I am seeing now that I did not see before my surgery, I am reminded that there is more to this world, and to the ways God is present in it, than we readily notice. The psalmist says “I said in my alarm, ‘I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.’” He knows that he wasn’t really cut off from God’s eyes, but that the cloudiness and forgetfulness of fear and distress had made it hard for him to sense God’s presence and providence.
I am not an avowed meditator. And most of my days aren’t spent in spiritual revelation. But every once in a while, in my time with the Daily Office, when the light is refracted just right, I am accompanied by the beauty and wonder of God’s glory: of hope, of forgiveness; of blessings, all bestowed on a world worth celebrating. And I find myself giving thanks a bit more for the unexpected love of God, and unexpected moments of vision.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie & he have been married 30 years and reside in the Texas Hill Country.
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Today we pray for:
St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Dallas, Texas
The Diocese of Cameroon (Church of the Province of West Africa)