Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Expectant in Bethlehem: Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Oh, that my ways were made so direct
   that I might keep your statutes! 
  Psalm 119:5

“We all get distracted praying the psalms,” I heard the monk say. I am surprised. After all, he is a monk, and not a new one either. He is no novice, trying out the monastic life and discipline to see if it fits. This gentle soul, who was instructing our retreat group about prayer, has been intentional about his Christian vocation for a long time.  Apparently, even mature Christians get distracted. “When you find your mind wandering during the recitation of the psalm, do not berate yourself. Rather, think back, find the place where you lost your way. Often the verse you were praying has something to tell you.”

This morning his words come back to me. Because as I pray psalm 119, I rewrite one verse. “Oh that your ways were made so direct,” I pray. There it is. That one little slip. Just a word. And a world of difference.

Wouldn’t it be nice, I think, if God’s ways were so clearly delineated that there was no chance for me to stray off the path? Perhaps the way of God’s statutes could be more like those lines at amusement parks and airports that snake between ropes, the people carefully corralled into obedience.

But that’s not how God works. I am responsible for my ways, the psalm reminds me. In fact, my ways are the only ones to which I can be held accountable. Huh.

I still have some work to do. I begin to pray the psalm again.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012