Monday, October 30, 2006

New Psalm 4, Remember God

Coming out of a time of grief, on a Sunday, after
meditating at 6 a.m. then walking in October sunshine with a friend.

How great is my longing for You:
A desert thirst
A consuming fire
A single raindrop trailing down the window.

I plead and nothing happens.
I rant and nothing happens.
I light candles, burn incense, sit still:
Nothing happens.
Discouraged, my heart contracts.

Mundane specks of earthly existence
Resplendent depth of distant mystery
Myself, small locus of wonder and confusion
You, encompassing wholeness of All
One force, one field

How did I lose touch with You?

Enemies yammer in my head:
Where is your God
You fool of illusion?
Get your nose out of your navel.
Get real.
Get busy.
Get a new job, a new house, a new car
A new spouse
A new cause.
Do something useful!

Drained, I listen as they say:
Be angry about the war, the powerful
The suffering.
Be angry.

Seeing me helpless, they tear my clothes
Shriek, laugh, leap around
Point damning fingers and cry:
How futile is your God-talk.
Be practical.
Take care of business, family, the church.
Stop this selfish indulgence,
Stop this shameful idleness.
Stop sitting still
Tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing

I remember how I used to go
Buoyed in joy
Gladly hurrying to prayer
Easily sitting in meditation.
I avoided distraction
Read good books
And sang
Pushing a grocery cart
At a committee meeting
In the shower
Because I knew.

Why are You cut off from me?
Day and night I breathe Your Breath
Day and night I move in Your Body
How long will You stay far from me?

You say:
“Be not discouraged.
Trust the memory of God within
Trust the experience of God without.

Crashing ocean breakers
Swaying willows
A little dog prancing
The smell of dirt
A sigh as your love turns in sleep.

Trust earth.
Its molten core of iron, nickel
With stars and
The dark matter between galaxies.
This earth shouts
I Am real.”

God embodied calls
God ineffable answers
In dream
In a space where something isn’t
In unanswerable questions:
Why stars are born and die.
Why we were born and will die.

Breathe out
Diversity is born.
Breathe in
We rush back to union.

I will lose myself in You
With a shout of joy.

© 2006 R. Elena Tabachnick

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Psalm 1: Passion Like Wild Animals

Written after nine months of daily psalm chanting had shattered biblical literalism while the novitiate undermined monastic conviction.

In pain I cry out to You.
Who else would listen to me?

Enemies surround me.
Beasts prowl my street.
They dig up my garden and
run through my house
as if they owned the whole place.

Pride, that ravening lion, eats my heart and
anger like wild dogs tears my flesh.
My stomach is cold with coiling hate.
Her cobra head strikes at my insides,
I can hardly taste my food.

Fear opens her vulture’s beak in the rafters,
stretching her naked, scaly neck.
Her screech sets my teeth on edge.
She snatched my newborn children
before they saw a single day -
all but two.

Those two live but hardly thrive.
All night long fear’s screech shakes them.
She thrusts her beak down their throats
seizing any food they swallow and
sucking the breath from their nostrils.
Pale and weak, they can not raise their heads but
lie in bed gasping

Yet they live.
They live:
my two beloved, my own.
I am not left entirely barren.

Oh, hear me.
Hasten to my cry.
Help me roust the beasts from my house.
Help me bring my offspring to full life.
Help me surrender into your love,
Giving all without condition.
So I, too, may fully live.
To sing a song of Your many wonders.
To give You thanks and praise.

© 2004 R. Elena Tabachnick