Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Meditation on Psalm 63

"O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you." Psalm 63:1

Psalm 63:1 has become a bit of a mantra for me. I say it silently each morning as I quiet my thoughts before I begin my Centering Prayer, and I find that I return to it throughout the day. I don't always repeat the full verse; sometimes "O God, you are my God" is all I need to re-focus my thoughts.

Several months ago, I realized that as I focused on the words, I would hear "O God, you are my God" as "O God, you are *my* God." I know this may seem minor, but as I considered what it means that I was emphasizing the word "my," I determined there may be a better way than subconsciously putting the focus on my own thoughts or feelings of God.

I realized the better way to hear the phrase was: "O God, you are my God." As in, God IS my God, not God is MY God. God -- who is so intimately present to each of us every second, who created each of us in God's image, who is "being" itself and yet who exists so completely other and separate from anything we can think or project on that Being -- that God is my God.

I've also come to see that if God is my God, then nothing else can be. Of course I would have said this, but it struck me that if I truly, in the depths of my being believe "O God, you are my God," then I need to be consciously aware that:

My loved-ones are not my god.

My roles of daughter, sister, friend, wife, and mother are not my god.

My hopes and dreams and wants and wishes are not my god.

My religion is not my god.

My nation is not my god.

My political views are not my god.

My identity not my god.

My social status is not my god.

My physical appearance is not my god.

My reputation is not my god.

My thoughts are not my god.

My earthly possessions are not my god.

My ideas are not my god.

My opinions are not my god.

My self-worth is not my god.

My life is not my god.

Only God is my God.

I've even begun to insert these sentiments into my mantra when I feel myself identifying too deeply with a thought or emotion that distracts me from a better way to handle everyday situations. For example, I will try to pause and think, "God, YOU are my God. The results of this effort are not my God. You are my God." Or "God, YOU are my God. This person's approval or esteem is not my God. You are my God." Sometimes just the act of stating both who should be my focus, along with who-or-what should not be, is enough to help me navigate frustrating situations with grace.

It has only been a few months, and I'm not perfect at remembering every time, but I'm thankful this is becoming a practice for me. God is my God. Everything thing else is simply part of life, to either be enjoyed or endured.

It really is as simple and beautiful as that.

All I have to do is keep practicing.

Note: for more resources and information on Centering Prayer, I encourage you to check out the  Contemplative Outreach website and/or listen to some of Thomas Keating's work on Audible. Another resource I've discovered recently is Gravity Center, which lists several wonderful resources and offers some excellent videos on contemplation.