Out of the Depths (Psalm 130)

RSV Psalm 130 A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

winter

winter (Photo credit: Yanowa00)

In the barren world of a Minnesota winter I memorized these words.  The world outside matched the sorrow within.  It was the second year after my brother’s death and grief was eroding me, though I was too young to understand.  I just knew that I felt like the barren trees, gray skies, and colorless, snow-covered ground that stretched from horizon to horizon.

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!

Those were the years of the famine in the Sahel, the bloated stomachs of perishing vacant-eyed children, and the unending war in Southeast Asia.  Political crises boiled.  The bombing of Cambodia.  That terrible picture of the running child, arms spread wide in anguish from burning napalm.  Kent State.  Though all that was but background noise to the inner desolation of a world without my older brother, a world without connection.  He had been my anchor in the world, and he was gone.

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!

There is great treasure in the words of these psalms.  We are not the first to grieve, the first to rejoice, the first to crumble in the weight of discovered sin.  We are not the first to plead for healing or to find it.  We are not the first to wish our enemies and their children dead or to sing of the majesty of creation and the gift of God’s ordering, saving governance.  There are words for all of us and for every time.  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,” were the words for that time in my life.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.NIV

I can transcribe it here in the New International Version that is now my daily Bible.  But the words I know are those written in my soul that winter.

I remember looking out a bus window at the frozen countryside waiting for a morning: waiting for a sun to rise and warm my spirit, waiting for the dawning of a day when the wounds and sorrows of the past were left behind us, waiting for life to regain it’s lost savor, waiting for the word that the healing of the world was near.

Someone crafted a special piece of music from this psalm that was performed by the St. Olaf College Choir for the campus.  They went on to perform it in the rotunda of the Capitol building.  Or maybe they did it for us when they got back.  I don’t remember.  I just remember the anguish of the piece.  All my desolation laid bare.

There was no happy ending to that terrible winter, just a long slow erratic journey to a new place.  Like Israel straggling out of the wilderness to eke out an existence in the highlands.  Like Jacob limping towards the promised land.

I have sojourned in Good Friday.  I walk now, like Elijah, sustained by the bread of angels and the promise spoken anew every Sunday.  I have heard God in the silence.  And I await our Easter.

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About dkbonde

Pastor, Los Altos Lutheran Church
This entry was posted in Grief, Psalms and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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