Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flood Above, Below, Within

O my God, my soul is cast down within me. therefore will I remember You from the land of Jordan, and Herman, and from Mount Mizar/ Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls: all Your waves and Your billows are gone over me/ Yet the Lord will command His loving kindness in the day time, and in the night, his song shall be with me, and my prayer will be unto the God of my life.
Psalm 42:7-10 

Everything around the Psalmist
was like an ocean tossed with tempest—
his future unsure, his past troubled.
His sorrows, like Job’s messengers,
came not in singles, but doubles:
each following fast on another’s heel;
new news brought, worse news still.

His griefs ebbed wave upon wave
as he kept exiled camp in crawling caves,
and roamed withal a destination:
less the King now, more the slave;
less the wiseman, more the knave.
No longer man of reputation,
but an unknown none cared to know.
He was from nowhere, with nowhere to go.

Then, outside his cave, he heard,
the fretful song of a passing bird
in flight to ‘scape the dark'ning sky.
David, dyed in wilderness, knew this lay:
he had heard it many times before,
in younger, brighter, days:
“A flood is on the way.”

Next second, the sky opened like a door,
and flung rainfall fierce and fast
as if arrows meant to pierce earth's floor:
as if heaven and earth were now at war.
The river Jordan ascended the pass,
and forced David up a mountain path,
until, drenched and dreary, he stood, at last
upon the highest peak of Mizar —
never had he stood so high; never had he felt so low.
With flood above, and flood below;
flood above, and flood below.

David's heart protested against him;
the deep outside called to the deep within him.
His conscience roared, in time with thunder,
and David bowed with fear and wonder,
and thought of what he once was,
and where he once had been,
and where he might be, right then,
if not for lies and crimes and sin.
And he concluded that he was,
more than all his foes 'mong men,
his own worst foe, his least best friend.
He was the fount, the source, the cause
of the storm without, and the storm within.

He had wandered into dens of sins
he had once condemned with his own tongue;
he had seen all; seen better men
like Jonathon, his friend, descend to early end,
and lesser men, survive;
he knew none were righteous: none 
but the best die young,
and he was still alive.

Melancholy memories to David called,
but he was saddened, most of all, 
by remembrance of the sacred shrine
that offered nourishment divine,
wherein his soul had often dined
with the multitude that kept holy day;
he was, from that shrine, a long, long way.

Then, David remembered a promise
he'd oft read in the law of Moses,
"The Lord, The Lord, compassionate, gracious,
abounds in loving kindness."
And love like lightning lit his darkened mind;
and he felt, beyond the storm, sunshine.
He reasoned then on love Divine:

He saw his sins ascend like mountains,
but he saw grace, from an everlasting fountain
rising like a mighty wave, billow upon billow,
and flooding the world with mercy sublime,
quenching his guilt, consuming his crimes.
His stormy soul grew sudden calm.
'Twas then the Psalmist wrote this Psalm:

O, My God, all your billows and waves
are gone over me, forced me from my cave,
and left me drenched in storms of woe,
with flood above, within, below.
Yet, I remember, I remember this:
The Lord will command His loving kindness
in the day time, and in the night, 
his song shall be with me.
And my prayer will be
unto the God of my life.

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