Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Wisdom in Yearning

A Meditation on Psalm 14

The fool has said in her heart, “There is no God.” On any given morning of any given day, even the most devout person can look for God and find…nothing. Perhaps this is because she looks on the world and sees only brokenness. Or perhaps it is because what she knows about God is not the same as knowing God. Or maybe her sense of being bereft stems from the dilemma that even though she knows God, she has lost hope and her way.

  The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
     All are corrupt, all commit abominable acts;
     there is none who does any good.”
  The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all,
     to see if there is any who is wise,
     if there is one who seeks after God. (Psalm 14:1-2)

All a person has to do is read the front page of any newspaper to understand the fool’s point of view. And God? God looks down from heaven on us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God. The fool doubts God in her heart perhaps because she has confused yearning with alienation. It is this yearning, this seeking for God, that God calls wise.

Wisdom, according to the psalmist, is not knowing all about God, nor self-assurance, nor resting in the satisfaction of having it all worked out. Rather wisdom equals seeking after God. Wisdom comprises knowing that there is a relationship to be had with God and that it is one worth pursuing. In one sense, God does not satisfy us-- because we are never done knowing God.

I know what I yearn for on those mornings when I wake and God seems an abstract notion with no power to heal or save or protect. I yearn for the knowledge of God’s tender love. Not head knowledge, but heart knowledge. I am convinced that the most important work any of us can do is to nurture our spiritual life, to recognize and follow our yearning for God, and to appreciate the seeking itself as wisdom. I pray that my yearning may be satisfied in such a way that I yearn for more. Because when it comes to God, and God’s love for us, and God’s desire to be in relationship with us, there is always more.

Once Jesus fed a multitude in the wilderness with only five loaves of bread and two fish. When the people were satisfied, when all had eaten their fill, God was not done with them. Jesus instructed the people to gather up the fragments left over. What could Jesus do with fragments? Another miracle apparently. They collected twelve baskets full: more fragments than there was bread to begin with. Gather up the fragments so that nothing may be lost, says Jesus. Nothing and no one. Jesus knows there is no end to our yearning and no end to God’s abundance.

Writer, artist and Methodist minister Jan Richardson captures this additional miracle in her poem, Blessing the Fragments.

Blessing the Fragments

Cup your hands together,

and you will see the shape
this blessing wants to take.

Basket, bowl, vessel:

it cannot help but

hold itself open
to welcome

what comes.

This blessing
knows the secret
of the fragments
that find their way
into its keeping,

the wholeness

that may hide

in what has been

left behind,
the persistence of plenty

where there seemed

only lack.

Look into the hollows
of your hands
and ask

what wants to be

gathered there,

what abundance waits
among the scraps
that come to you,

what feast

will offer itself
from the fragments
that remain. 

[Jan Richardson in her blog The Painted Prayerbook on July 22, 2012 http://paintedprayerbook.com/]

The feast is in the fragments. Wisdom is in the seeking. The fool has said in her heart there is no God…and yet she holds out her cupped hands waiting for the fragment that will answer her yearning.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012