My soul knoweth it right well

Sep 7/19 2015

 

"I will confess Thee, for awesomely art Thou wondrous, marvelous are Thy works, and my soul knoweth it right well." (Psalm 138:14, Sept)

 

This morning, I read the above verse, in the Psalms. I read at least 1 Kathisma a day, plus Psalm 118 (the 17th Kathisma). I recommend with all my heart that you read the Psalter daily too. It teaches us how to pray, and how to think. It encompasses every aspect of life that I have experienced thus far. Get a good Psalter and use it every day.

 

This verse, and others in the Psalm "jumped off the page" at me. I will tell you why, and it is intensely personal. I have known a lot of folks, and heard a lot of confessions (including the things that were not said - a priest develops an ear for those "silent sayings")  and I know that my experiences are not so different than the rest of humanity, but some do not speak, even to themselves, with flagrant honesty.

 

I worked a long day yesterday, and had only a little food. I got really hungry, and had access to nothing except water and Coke. I chose unwisely. Coke is a wretched thing. It is horrible for the body, and in my case, the mind. I drink less than a liter a year, because, although I like it, I do not like what it does to me, bodily and spiritually.

 

What can I say? Sometimes I make bad choices. I drank the Coke, and had the inevitable rebound effect. I felt drowsy and sluggish, and when I feel this way, sometimes my thoughts are sluggish too. They were amplified a little because I have been soldiering through a bit of a tired and sluggish period. I can not seem to get enough rest, and am not organized enough to get everything done.

 

I do not mean that I was not clear thinking. I was alert mentally, and competant, as usual in my nursing duties. The sluggishness that I refer to is spiritual. I mean that when I had a negative thought, I did not ignore it or deflect it as well as I usually do. I entered a state of mind of cynicism, and unfocused unhappiness and weariness. I deal with a ton of stuff every week. A lot of it is hard, but if I am alert and prayerful, it is just hard, but not debilitating. When I am off my game a little bit, my soul is at loose ends.

 

A priest battles with negative thoughts all the time. They are beaten off with prayer and fasting and reading Scripture often, and intercessory prayer especially, and being stubborn with the will. In other words, one CHOOSES to not think negatively, and converts the negative energy of a suggested thought (or more often, a feeling or attitude, which seems to exists not quite as a though, but more as a dark companion) into prayer.

 

When a suggested thought or feeling is not immediately repelled (they are repelled often, and sometimes we are aware of this battle, and other times, we are not, almost like we are unaware of our blinking to repel dust in the air) , the soul becomes unsettled.

 

I think this state of the soul shows our abysmal ignorance of the mercy of God. We talk about it (I preach about it, and I have ordered my life to teach about it), but we do not really, fully know it. If we did, there would be no malaise in our soul.

 

When I read the verse:

 

"I will confess Thee, for awesomely art Thou wondrous, marvelous are Thy works, and my soul knoweth it right well." (Psalm 138:14, Sept)

 

I was thinking, in germinal form, the kinds of thoughts I am writing here.

 

My soul *does* know this right well, and the mystery to me is: WHY do I forget it sometimes? This conundrum is what drives me to read the Gospels, the Psalter and to pray. I know this condition of the soul, where it knows "right well" the mercy of God, and nothing else, is achievable. The saints achieved it. I want it, and I want my flock to achieve it. This state of the soul defines Christianity for me.

 

I pray for my flock, that they have moments such as I have described, when they read the Scripture, and pray. These moments are our food and water, and only a little bit of this food will allow us to walk for forty days in the desert,  where we will eventually find Mount Horeb[1], and God will visit us, and never leave us.

 

 

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Priest Seraphim Holland 2015     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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[1] 1 Kings 19:1-18, The story of Elias after he had killed all the prophets of Ball and Jezebel vowed to kill him.