from Proverbs Sixteen
For fifty days I read the Psalms, three per day, and had the experience of being on a real journey of the soul. It seems the most accurate way to describe the time period. I traveled--to the degree that I could as a working stiff with a family--along a variety of paths: poetry and torment; suffering and exultation; pleading in humility from the pits of darkness and despair and boasting in song and meter of the reality of God in my life. You should try it sometime.
Proverbs, now that we're half-way through, is a horse of a different color. It's rational and ordered; not very emotional; and at turns rather cold and repetitive. This is a healthy tonic from the tumultuous fifty days odyssey I sailed through last month. Ironically, it's while reading Proverbs that my dreams have returned, as if to surmise that during my Psalm-infused waking hours, walking around this chaotic and concrete labyrinthian city of hours, my mind needed a respite when it truly came to rest, falling on the pillow at night; but now, structured into the slightly uber-ordered know-it-all attitude of the Minstrel Mishley, my soul awakens as my body rests, feeding the need for frenzy, imagination, and inner turmoil.
Then again, maybe not.
It's just as likely that against the backdrop of a steady narrative, our own patterns of living and reflecting are brought into relief and we're able to see ourselves better, more clearly, when, like paint on a canvas, we apply ourselves to sacred texts with simple disciple and regularity. I've always dreamed in stages; encountering torrential rains of replenishment followed by arid tracts of nothing. That's just how I roll. And without ever having to press the matter, I find my answers along the way.
"The preparations of the heart are man's; but the answer of the tongue is from the Eternal."
From the earliest days that I can remember, I have always thrown myself at life, full-force. And I have done so as a "servant of God." Don't recoil. Please. I need you to listen to me. Eved Hashem. Alone in my bed as a kid, falling asleep. Out in the rain, under the trees, in rhapsodic delight or, on occasion, shaking my fist heaven-ward. Running on a path below Mt Scopus in Jerusalem, encountering an ibyx. Staring into my father's eyes, three months before his death. In each of those instances, while existentially alone, preparing my heart, I knew that God would bring me to understand. And that as terrifying or uplifting or depressing any of those moments could be, I knew that in them was an encounter with Truth that would not be my discovery alone but merely an uncovering of a deeper reality, a more profound connection to the forces of life in the universe as we know it.
One time, in high school, I was cutting a lawn. The warm summer sun burned through the shirt on my back as I drew patterns in the grass with my machine. Lines ran east and west, then north and south-I remember this particular family liked a kind of "crossing pattern" in their yard. While mindlessly going through the exercise, my mower encountered an obstacle which drew its blades to a halt. I had discovered just beneath the surface of the grass a tree's root, farther removed from the closest tree than I would have thought but upon examination, clearly its source of water, minerals, and life. After carefully removing the blade from the root and I stopped the mower and decided to take a break by sitting beneath the shade of the tree, but not without first apologizing to the tree for this untoward behavior.
The tree, of course, said nothing (at least to me) for I am not a pagan.
But I did lean against it, and encounter the sky through its branches, the arc of which I followed down to the ground, where I located the offended root, damaged but not irreparably, by nothing more and nothing less than a servant, cutting grass, and seeking a brief rest in the shade.