Psalm 38 is a dark song of the night. We all have them. We blame God, we blame others, we blame ourselves. The mystery of faith still finds rays of light.
38 Domine, ne in furore
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; *
do not punish me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have already pierced me, *
and your hand presses hard upon me.
3 There is no health in my flesh,
because of your indignation; *
there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities overwhelm me; *
like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
5 My wounds stink and fester *
by reason of my foolishness.
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; *
I go about in mourning all the day long.
7 My loins are filled with searing pain; *
there is no health in my body.
8 I am utterly numb and crushed; *
I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
9 O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, *
and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
11 My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; *
my neighbors stand afar off.
12 Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; *
those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin
and plot treachery all the day long.
13 But I am like the deaf who do not hear, *
like those who are mute and do not open their mouth.
14 I have become like one who does not hear *
and from whose mouth comes no defense.
15 For in you, O Lord, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, "Do not let them rejoice at my expense, *
those who gloat over me when my foot slips."
17 Truly, I am on the verge of falling, *
and my pain is always with me.
18 I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin.
19 Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, *
and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
20 Those who repay evil for good slander me, *
because I follow the course that is right.
21 O Lord, do not forsake me; *
be not far from me, O my God.
22 Make haste to help me, *
O Lord of my salvation.
This is the latest in the Lightscape series, a desert arroyo that bends towards the light (18x18 acrylic on birch panel). It looks pretty good but only a couple of days ago it was a mess. I use an abstract process to build these lightscape paintings that is open ended, but sometimes results in a dead end, poor composition. I asked Chuck Volz, my painting mentor and gallery neighbor for some feedback. He took one look and said". Are those mountains or an indian pueblo?" The hills on the left were much higher, more complicated and had too many right angles. The scene had no rhythm or story. Yesterday I went back and forth to Chuck as I rebuilt the scene. His constructive criticism made this a much better painting. More importantly my relationship with Chuck has made me a much better painter and person. Cultivating mentors and truth telling friends has been the most challenging and rewarding part of my growth journey over the years. Criticism stings a bit, but it takes a few sparks to make me sharper! Thanks Chuck!
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,* 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen.17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Exhale and let go.
Breath in and feel more alive.
Glory surrounds us all!
Humility is letting go of control and trusting the friends and forces that have our best at heart. There is beauty, goodness and glory out there in the midst of the chaos. We have to open our hearts and eyes to see it.
Tom C. McGee, Jr.
Musings about mystery, art and spirituality.