Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’

Soul Ripples 2: Soul Psalms

Posted: September 26, 2019 by Ty in Soul Ripples 2
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For those who are not familiar with the Hebrew Bible-Christian Testament, a Psalm is a song or poem. It is a collection of 150 that run the gambit of emotions and situations for people and the Nation of Israel on their faith journey with the Holy Mystery.

Soul Psalms are a poetic expression of my own journey of healing.

Part of the work with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mindfulness practice of a body scan where you get in touch with your physical self, emotions and thoughts.

Out of those, as the tears of healing flow:

Soul Psalms.

The journey is the healing.

The destination is the new book of your life.

What follows are some of these psalms of healing.

Read the Soul Psalms


Two weeks in with our community open exploration of the Psalms. It has been an interesting journey. I have touched upon 3 specific dialogue partners to deepen the discussion within myself to aid in facilitating the discussion in our living room. There was a fourth that cropped up this week to my surprise. Many had referred me to the writings of Brene Brown on my journey. I had put in to the public library for her latest book, Dare to Lead, and time passed it finally came up on my hold shelf. Now for my own journey I rated it 2/5. Not because it is a bad book, or anything in it. Note the wording, for my own journey. See, if I was coming to this from a different journey it would probably be a 5/5, but from my journey through a Franciscan formation what was echoed in these pages was a modern take on ancient wisdom. Much like the Dalai Lama text from years ago I had read, Ancient Wisdom, Modern World.

These with my own journey are a cornerstone of the Selah this pause where we rest in the words and the Spirit to see what is discerned. It is the familiarity, as N.T Wright would discuss in The Case for the Psalms, that can reduce these ancient words to modern filler in worship services, or worse, choruses of popular religious tunes with meaning stripped from them. Wright challenges the reader to ask if the Psalms had been lost to antiquity would one’s faith be any different? Do we accept the transformative challenge where the Psalms bring one to the crossroads/intersection of time/humanity/God. That is the Psalms bring us to the celebration of the transformation of time, and the physicality of creation. A liturgical rhythm of life where one can experience all the spectrum of emotions with the Holy, and not have to fake it. Where it is normalized to be a feeling full person as we are created in our thinking, feeling, spiritual, soul self. These are the words on the page, that are used in worship, and daily prayer to free us.

As one would say about the Liturgy, it is the framework or coat-hanger of our faith, and then our lives are the dressing. Is it plausible then that the emotional element is connected through the Psalms?

This is the pattern Herbert O’Driscoll brings to the reader in Finer Than Gold, Sweeter than Honey, which is essentially a reading guide. That is there is 150 short treatises (one for each Psalm) that ends with a contemplative prayer-action question for the reader. You become active in your understanding of the Psalms and how they wrap around your life. An impactful reflection is on the fifth Psalm where O’Driscoll asks “What are the virtues of God? How committed are we to those in our daily lives?”

O’Driscoll brings the priestly and lay perspective as like Wright pointing out how often Psalms are used, and said by rote, but have we spent time to connect with the words? To the time and place they came from? and our time and place now? To our daily walk.

This is the challenge of Selah, as Billy Graham would encourage believers to read a chapter of Proverbs a day, and five Psalms a day as a monthly practice to get through both books. The Proverbs for how to be with neighbour, and the Psalms for how to be with God, one would imagine the overlap being how to be with self, hence creating a cross in scripture or a reflection of the Great Commandments.

Now before someone points out that they are of the Hebrew Bible, and the three mentioned here are Christian, I am also from a psychology background, and enjoy Harold S. Kushner’s works (most notably, When Bad Things Happen to God People) he has a short treatise on probably the most famous Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm. Within the synagogue, Kushner points out how easily meaning can be lost through constant memorized recitation. Yet he also raises the question:

Can a psalm change your life?

As the flip side to those that point out scripture can become so formulaic in study and worship that it loses any of its oomph, or connection to the now. Which Kushner brings a reminder that religion first and foremost is a place of community (belonging) where questions arise, and journeys are shared. The rhythm of life, the crux is finding the healthy religion, community, for your journey and seasons of your life.

Kushner pushes the reader on asking what the Lord is my shepherd means for one who is an advocate for the voiceless or fights injustice. Which is where he hits with this Psalm (and I would posit with others) it is about pointing out what more do I need? That is, where is the true meaning of my life resting? What does it mean to restore our souls in the world today? That is in that soul (whole) restoration, it is centered on wellness by no longer violating our human nature (core values) that make us sick. Now, as Kushner points out this is not about believing our dissonance causes all illness, but dissonance between true nature and self creates illness which can manifest in many ways. When one is true to who they are, as a whole they are healthier regardless of what they face.

Now I can give a pat answer on many things during this rest, this next phase of asking what is next, but let us close with a question as we explore:

What does it mean to be home in-with God?


Yup, new YouTube videos were created during my family’s retreat at Countess, AB. They cover a variety of spiritual formation topics in no more than 3 minute stints. The first is about Selah.

Watch here.

Selah

Posted: August 10, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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Selah. An ancient Hebrew word found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) books of Habakkuk and Psalms. It is a direction for the chorus and music director. Can be seen as an exclamation, but actually means- Rest.

Yes, rest. Even in worship there are times when we are rolling in all of life’s emotions that we simply need to pause, rest, reflect, discover, grow and learn. This has been a re-connecting point in my healing journey and as a family. As part of the re-connection we are excited to re-open our home for Dinner & Bible. It is a time of potluck feasting, or as those of our brothers and sisters int he Salvation Army would coin it, Communion (Eucharist). Then following the time together sharing life, we enter into (at request of my daughter, from her learning at Pine Lake Christian Camp)– the Psalms. A collection of poems, hymns, worship songs, and prayers that cover the emotional spectrum in the journey with God.

These have been such great points of community and belonging in our home that there is excitement to welcome it back on Tuesday nights starting August 20 (oh, and this will also start reflections on the Psalms here possibly).

So, may the journey of summer, and entry in the fall, seek a rhythm of -pause-rest- Selah in your own life and soul.


Many of the Psalms are related to David. A case study in sanitizing the horrors of a leader, but also of what happens with power and a humble spirit. Started out as a cast off shepherd boy, hunted by the ruling monarch, before finally being anointed as King. It was his descendants that would take Israel into exile. Yet, the poetic words accredited to him does bring forward a powerful question on the road to recovery:

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed,
let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed:
let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions:
according to thy mercy remember thou me
for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord:
therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
The meek will he guide in judgment:
and the meek will he teach his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

-Psalm 25:1-10 (King James Version)

Spend some time with these poetic words, in this translation so you really have to think of the resonance. What questions arise for you in life?

For me there is two. The first is about our relationships in life with our faith, ourselves and others. What is the way of the Covenant?

The other though, is along the same depth. Where do we seek out wisdom in our labyrinth like journey?

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Psalmists’ paint such wonderful word pictures that can speak across centuries, and, cultures. In Psalm 82, which I remember from a paper I wrote in seminary, challenges the understanding of creation and cosmology. It is within the tradition of the 10 Commandments from Exodus, where there is no God before YHWH, rather than the post-exile Deuteronomy that there is no God by YHWH. It fits into a culture we already may be within today without realizing it.

God has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
    maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk around in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I say, “You are gods,
    children of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals,
    and fall like any prince.”[a]

Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
    for all the nations belong to you!

-Psalm 82 (New Revised Standard Version)

Think of a grand cosmic council, like the pantheons many understood in the ancient world. Yet over them all is God. The one Source. This can also be an allegory for world governments, corporations, any leading group. But the allegory chosen is this Cosmic Council of the gods and goddesses.

Why?

An great illustrative point of the world they have left in discord. Like the battle within ourselves. Wrestling through each step of the way. Which do we rest in? The light or the shadow? Order or Chaos? Each is apart of us, to make a whole, it is up to us where we spend our time. When we go askew, help is needed to right the raft on the river of life if you will. Here the Psalmist is laying out allegory as well for the failure of Kingdom, how the monarchs have created division, a nation that chased after to be like everyone else, envy, has no succumbed to the same injustices and horrors.

They had lost the ability to see each other as family, as need for interconnectedness, rather they let might rule, and a hierarchy. Through this council, God calls out the earthly and faux cosmic despots for what they have sowed and reaped. The harvest is of hate, fear, and despair. An anxious world, riddled with grief. The Psalmist points out that there is no divine right of leadership, no special blessing or provision. Simply, what actions show and in their here and now (and ours) it is shining through the religious lens that it is seeking after their own power, wealth and glory.

The resounding answer presented to this way of religion and rule is a resounding NO from the heavens.

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bShout for joy to God, all the earth;

2  sing the glory of his name;

cgive to him glorious praise!

3  Say to God, d“How awesome are your deeds!

So great is your power that your enemies ecome cringing to you.

fAll the earth worships you

and sings praises to you;

they sing praises to your name.” Selah

gCome and see what God has done:

dhe is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

6  He hturned the sea into dry land;

they ipassed through the river on foot.

There did we rejoice in him,

7  who rules by his might forever,

whose jeyes keep watch on the nations—

let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

8  Bless our God, O peoples;

let the sound of his praise be heard,

9  who has kept our soul among the living

and khas not let our feet slip.

-Psalm 66:1-9 (English Standard Version)

It is the emergence from the shadow self into the true you is what the Psalmist sings of. It lays out the hypocrite as the ones that claim true religiousity (may we name a few politicians and cast thy out?) yet there is a true path out of bondage. Whether that bondage is due to physical, mental or spiritual health or as we truly know the combination of all for the Imageo Dei does not function as a silo of systems but rather as one fluid whole being.

The psalmist sings of the release of this bondage–trauma that you have tried to persevere through or cover up in your lifetime. The sense of not being good enough, it is the new slavery that we measure ourselves by immeasurable standards and remove joy and happiness supplanted for prestige, title and wealth. We must be more– but at what cost to ourselves? And the generations that are with us, and come after us? What is the ripple effect of our damaged souls? Or those inter-connected with our generations?

How many times has this been done under the idolatry of the false god of Christendom–where power and wealth is what is truly worshipped, not the discipled life of holy love?

This falsity is the slavery and shadow that the psalmist cries out for escape from… Is in Holy Thankfulness to be released from…

Can we do the same today?

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What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

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