To the LORD in the hour of my distress
I call—and he answers me.
“O LORD, save my soul from lying lips,
from the tongue of the deceitful.”
What should he give you, what repay you,
O deceitful tongue?
The warrior’s arrows sharpened,
with red-hot coals from the broom tree!
Alas, that I live in Meshech,
dwell among the tents of Kedar!
I have had enough of dwelling
with those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak,
they are for war.
One week ago today, I who – to quote the psalmist – “am for peace” became consumed with the fire of my own anger. If you do not know what I am talking about, you can read the blog post from that day, but I’m not linking to it. Righteous anger is one thing, but that was something else! Again, referring to the psalm above, “red-hot coals from the broom tree” were flying off of my fingers as I typed. It was too much, and I felt it in my bones as the week progressed. Perhaps I could have forgotten it, or buried it, but God clearly had other plans because it ended up in the “best of blogs” section of the Albany Times Union print edition, and it became more widely read. Then, a person I trust implicitly got in touch to say ask me about my fury.
That conversation has worked its way deeply into my bones. That why I was startled as I opened my copy of Give Us This Day earlier today, and I read Psalm 120. Suddenly “warrior’s arrows” were something I felt like I had used with wild abandon. Also tumbling around my brain were thoughts questioning myself – was I truly was for peace, or did I hate it? The entire discussion of guns and violence has infected me with something that burns brightly, and could be used for good, or not so good. What am I doing with it? Whenever I read “if fill-in-the-blank were armed, they could have protected themselves,” I want peace, but I feel war more deeply as my anger burns hotter and hotter. And that is not really wanting peace – is it? The image from a 1960’s war protest, when demonstrators were placing flowers into gun barrels. Wanting always to be flower power person, on some days I turn out more fire power person. Not good.
As if the psalm were not enough to help me reflect, I turned the page and read about St. Peter Canisius, who the Church celebrates today. Robert Ellsberg, who writes about the daily saints and holy people for Give Us This Day, said this: “…Canisius maintained a tone of charity and generosity towards his opponents.” OK, God I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. *sigh* I am for peace, right?
Finally, today’s Gospel, continuing the theme of the Visitation, reminded me of the power of the Magnifcat. Apparently the public recitation of the prayer was banned in Guatemala in the 1980’s. Could there be a more profound reminder of the wanting peace – and being peace? Today’s O Antiphon rounds the entire thing off for me – O Oriens, or O Radiant Dawn. Yes Lord, please come and enlighten us. Of course, I seem to be in special need of enlightening.
If I am for peace, O Lord, as I believe I am, as I know you are, please, help me – help us – find and live that very peace. Your birth gives dawn to days of peace, when will we ever come to live that way? When will we choose the right path?
(To the conversation starter – you know who you are – thank you.)