Last night, the four of us who are left in our tiny, stalwart small group gathered together to share our lives and soak up God’s presence. We sat around a table, family style, and ate dinner together, taking turns holding the baby so everyone could eat. Then, after the baby had been put to sleep, we turned off the lights, sat in the quiet, and meditated on Psalm 19. We read through the chapter a few times, allowing our hearts to focus on whatever words or images stood out to us. That Psalm is filled with so many delicious words to meditate on, words like joy, beauty, warmth, reviving, rejoicing, enduring, sweeter, pure.
We shared our different reflections, each of us offering what God had spoken to our silent hearts. We talked about the experience of becoming disconnected from the glory of God that surrounds us in creation. It’s surprising that we can forget, Ashley said, because the sky never goes away. As the Psalm declares:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out to all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (19:1-4a)
The Psalm reminded us to connect to our deep yearning for God, to cry to God with Augustine, “O Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their peace in you.” We were reminded, as Nathan said, to be captivated by God.
That word stood out to me: captivated. What does it mean to be captivated by God, to be consumed by adoration for God? It’s a word with so much depth and completeness to it, so much worship. Some of my favorite lines of Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God come to mind:
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth—
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you. (Book of Hours, 1:17)
This morning, I visited a garden that used to be a common prayer spot for me while I was in graduate school. I sat and listened to the ripples of the reflection pool, breathed in the summer scent of Jasmine, and watched the sunlight filter through the green and purple leaves that seem to huddle this space into peace. I quieted the chatter of my non-captivated, frantic heart, stretching beyond my limits to allow God to be my only guest. For a few minutes, I watched the ever-present sky and just sat with my ever-present God.
What has been captivating you lately, holding your worshipful attention? Who are the unwelcome “loudmouths” that crash your celebration? What is it like to stretch yourself to be encompassed by the presence of God?
A special treat:
The fantastically talented Shawn McDonald has a beautiful song called “Captivated,” that reflects Psalm 19 so well. Here’s a nice little (cheesy) montage for your enjoyment: