Friday, November 16, 2018

Babel: A Brave New World (Genesis 11:1-9) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



The world received a new chance in Noah. Not only has God decided not to destroy the world again, but God also made a covenant with Noah to protect and enhance justice in the course of human relationships. There is a new hope that humanity will improve its place in the world creating relationships of goodness, grace and forgiveness.  But in just a few pages of this new history things fall apart.

Most of the stories in Genesis are character sketches of individual of faith. In them God places trust, confidence and covenant. It is through these important people that God’s plan and judgment is revealed to the people of God. But in the story of the Tower of Babel the narrator steps back to look at the cultural landscape after Noah to see a dangerous pattern developing.

The migration of the mass of people continued east until they came to a large plain with everything they needed. Instead of setting up an altar to God they decided to build a tower to rival the heavens. They wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted admiration, power and security which they would get themselves without the help of any divine power. By their striving and willful self-reflection they desired fame, unity and political strength against God. They wanted what Adam and Eve wanted---freedom. But what they received was punishment.

God’s response to this new endeavor of humanity was not affirming. God saw it not as a rivalry, but as a dangerous experiment that will end in evil. God says, “Soon they will be able to do anything they desire.” God’s meaning is clear. The same behavior and violence that was in the world during Noah’s era will soon return with a vengeance here in the land of Shinar. However, unlike the world during Noah’s time this world is organized. They have teams of laborers and elites who tell them what to do. The leaders are providing the message which is one of power, freedom and security against anything outside themselves. They will soon exclude, demonize and abuse people who do not come under their shared vision.

What made their attempt at becoming this powerful nation so dangerous was that they all had the same language. They shared the same internal ways of interpreting the world through this common language, and were able to communicate with the same understanding of their experience. This common use of language was a powerful tool to build unity, which could be a good thing. But in the hands of those that use it to build a fortress of exclusion and justified abuse against others, it turns devilish. For this nation of people “sameness means rightness and power.” 

This, of course, is an old sin of the communities of the world. Diversity, while it may be publically tolerated, is internally unacceptable and fearful and must be eliminated. We even have a word for this---stranger. The word comes from the naming of others who are different as strange. Once we are able to use this label with complete acceptance in the community then we are able to discriminate, exclude and even worse. God saw this inevitability as harmful and shameful. Instead of destroying the world God took the opportunity to scramble their languages. In fact the word used in Genesis is “confuse.” God’s intent was to bring confusion into the experience of the world through language for the purpose of avoiding more abuse, and the possibility that humanity will find tolerance instead of hate. But God created anxiety and fear to establish a dependent experience. 

In Jesus the world was opened up to a new vision of tolerance and righteousness. Through his ministry we have all learned that those we have labeled as not worthy are worthy in God’s eyes. Therefore to walk in the vision of God we must learn how to see others as worthy as well. Jesus ate with those others saw as sinners, evil and unworthy. He was called out for it, but it didn’t stop him. He continued to show the heart of God to the victims of communities that say, “sameness is rightness.”

Then on a day when Israel celebrated a festival called Pentecost, the world was given an opportunity to share in God’s vision for the world. After the resurrection the disciples went out to preach, having received the power of the Holy Spirit, when something unique happened. Those from every nation were able to understand what Peter was saying. God had broken down the walls of language which God created to stop the possibility of harm to others. Now he is restoring common understanding through the Spirit. They were one in God, but only through the Spirit. Under the direction of the Spirit and in the guidance of God we are made one. We are an invisible Kingdom without walls with a mission to break down more walls of indifference derived from the faulty ideologies based on that evil assumption that “sameness is rightness.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Noah: Man of Sacredness (Genesis 8:20-22) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



Noah’s story was not that of an old man who built a boat, but of a man who built a whole new world alongside and after an evil and corrupted one. Vigilance, cunning and an endless expenditure of energy and faith were needed to maintain his place in the world. Noah faced a world filled with people engaged in the lust for power, which they used to force and intimidate those around them. Their evil divided the world corrupting any decency they might have had. They became leaders over groups of people building a society that was devoid of justice but a kind of servitude to the heroes of the world.

He faced a world that didn’t temper their actions through knowledge of God in which justice and love were part of their consciousness. They instead confirmed if their actions were right by the rules of survival and need of the leader who brought fear to every person.

He faced a world that had grown up on lies because they had negated the truth. Justice was defined as fulfilling my need. Anyone who took that away from the group deserved punishment.  All this negation led to violence.

For years Noah found a way to live among this system of abuse and evil. To do this he not only needed to be courageous, fearless, but he needed to be wise. He had to show he was not a threat to them while proving that they needed him in some way. The only way he and his family could have survived was through the constant spiritual direction from God. Noah managed a life among people who had lost their sensibility toward others, and used violence as a means to settle disputes, which perpetuated the illusion of righteousness by excluding others from their community.

In the midst of all this chaos Noah also managed to build a ship. He, also, built a life of integrity with God and others. He built a family with this same integrity while he built this ark. He stepped out of his role as a farmer and rancher to spend his time building a boat. I don’t think they had invented the term “mid-life crisis” during his era but I am sure they had a similar word for him, as he began this project. He became a man who was on the outside, even with his family. He was the man in his garage tinkering all day trying to build something nobody understands, like a computer, software program or an invention that no one see’s the relevance of. Therefore, his courage was not only his ability to negotiate his neighbors evil but his families’ ridicule, as well.

This is the side of Noah we know well. But he was also a man of sacred understanding. He is not only a man of action he is a man of silence and quiet before God. During his voyage he was alive to all the necessary tasks to maintain life on the boat. Animals, family and damage to the boat needed to be attended to. There was little time, most likely, for worship or prayer with the kind of silence and intensity he was used to. But when they landed, the waters receded and it was safe to get off the boat. The first thing he did was to build an altar to worship God. 

It was time to show his gratitude, take time to listen to his own heart and to listen for the redemptive purpose of God. He was not interested in God’s new ethical demands for this new world, he was most likely interested in what God’s purpose was for him and this new world. He needed to listen as best he could in the silence of worship to figure out how to live out his life. As a man of action he figured out how to survive; as a man of sacredness he needed to figure out where God was walking in this world and follow him.

Being grateful reveals our inward understanding of God’s gifts to us. The reason for building the altar was to allow this inward understanding of God to show itself.  Noah did not build this altar because of duty, but because he felt an overwhelming desire to stand before God in the most humble way he knew how. The narrator said that God was pleased with Noah’s worship. God was so overtaken by Noah’s heart reaching out in hope, God promised never to destroy the earth again even though the human heart is filled with evil. Noah’s vulnerable and open heart reached God’s heart touching it with the gratitude of a man who loved God above all things. God wanted to protect that genuine heart, therefore God promised never to destroy the earth and then instilled the basic covenants of justice that would guide humanity to more honorable relationships.

Behind justice and mercy for every living thing stands the necessity of worship. In order for our hearts to remain open and turned to the world with grace we first need to be silent before God. We need to build our altar in whatever fashion we like. For some it is sitting on a patio, walking down the street, sitting in our car or standing on top of a hill. Whatever altar you build it must be visited for it to be the kind of reminder useful for spiritual development. 

We cannot afford to be like many leaders in the Old Testament who built altars for the people but never visited them. When this happens we forget our purpose. Paul reminds us of this truth when he says in Romans 12:1-2, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Present yourselves as living sacrifices unto God which is your reasonable worship.” The only way to maintain our spiritual perspective is to visit our altars which then remind us of where we are and where we are going.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Prayer: Wrestling with Selfishness (Luke 22:39-46) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



Christian inwardness is our chance to throw off the less than spiritual forces in us and put on the power of the spiritual goodness of God.

The world is becoming less compassionate and sensitive to the lives of others says one of our leading sociologists. This insensitivity arises from a kind of moral blindness created by an acquiescence to what we call normal. Instead of reaching beyond the banality of the world to our created purpose we accept the easy way. We were created in the image of God to care for each other and the world; yet we seem to be getting in the way of following that divine purpose. We don’t seem to have time for God, let alone the other people in our lives. The driving force behind this ever increasing loss of the other is our own selfishness. This is not new in the world of relationships, it has haunted us from the very beginning of our consciousness. Adam and Eve, as our historical and abiding parents, reveal to us that our problem is rooted in our own desires. These desires, most of the time, turn to fulfilling the self alone, not the needs of the other. It is difficult for us to get out of the way of our own self to find our true selves in God.

When we enter into prayer we must lose ourselves in this encounter in order to benefit from the relationship. We must be honest, open and authentic in this encounter with God to have any chance of speaking to us in the silence. We must get out of the way in order to come away from our time with God a changed person. The change that God is looking for in us is to become more aware of who God is and what God wants. From Jesus we know that God wants us to embrace the lost, the victims, the suffering of this world. God wants us to become more compassionate by losing our self in the divine wisdom and mercy. Selfishness prevents us from benefiting from our encounters with God. When we continue to allow our mind to control our prayer life with thoughts of what we want alone, then God can only speak to us in yes or no language. This limits God’s ability to speak to us in the silence. We push God into a corner without entrance into our life.

Dietrich Bonheoffer writes in 1942, “A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me.” When we forget that our prayers are to reach beyond our inner walls of separation we remain selfish, instead of a selfless expression of what Jesus calls us to be. The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane continues to teach us the real heart of prayer. In the garden he is wrestling with his destiny, his purpose in life. His suffering was because in following his purpose it meant his death. His struggles culminated in his cry to his Father, “Take this cup from me.” Like all of us who face such things, we would cry out to the one who can change the direction of our history. But Jesus wants something else more than his own life. He wants to do the will of God. So the last word was not “Take this cup from me,” but “Not my will but thy will be done.” This is not just a set of words that show respect to the power of God. This is a change of being in the world with God. His inner life and vision of the world is in step with God. This is the benefit of prayer in a world that is losing its sensitivity.

We are often led astray by the advice of Jesus and the apostles to ask God for what you want and he will be happy to grant it. Those who are true prayer warriors know that it is not all about asking, it is about stepping out of the way so you can hear and see where God is moving. Prayer as only asking becomes one sided because we only hear our own voice. That is why the Psalms must be reevaluated for more than just expressions of wants and gripes with God. They must be seen as the tensions of the self that is in danger of becoming the louder voice in the relationship. These prayers are not prescriptive for our behavior. They are the soundings of both the false self and the real self trying to come to grips with the presence of God. Therefore when the Psalmist demands of God to kill his enemies or to make their enemies suffer, he is acting from that selfish part of his inner world that needs to be heard but then also healed. The worshippers are called on to sing and pray these liturgical writings, not to put them into practice by killing their enemies, but to bring the pain behind these words to God and wait for healing.

Prayer is a wrestling with God, as Jacob did, but it is also a wrestling with ourselves. We are called upon through the process of prayer to get out of the way so God can have his way. Prayer is drawing closer to God and those around us. Compassion and sensitivity are the end result of this wrestling.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nothing But Love (I John 4:13-16) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



Most people want to be loved and want to give love back. But history is filled with the stories of tragic stories of those that tried to give their love but, within the process of giving, they failed in reaching their desired purpose. They instead were mocked or dismissed. Upon this knowledge they feel lost and unwanted. We miss giving the very thing that is worth giving away. But why do we miss this opportunity when we know that it is what we want to do? When we know that giving this one precious gift will add to our life and to those we give it? The useful and truthful answer is that our understanding of our self and our flirtation with our image is the ultimate obstacle, as well as the indifference of others. Some may say that it is our upbringing, our tragic experiences or even our biology. But this observation seeks to dismiss those that do not show love because we were not given the capacity by nurture or biology. I don’t want to diminish those that struggle with illness and damaged psyches, but encourage all of us that with God all things are possible.  If this is the case, then we can’t be fatalists who tragically call God into question for making us with these flaws and the misguidedness of giving. Love is a free act that must be measured by the sacrifice we offer it and the hope it produces.

Paul, the Apostle, says, “Love does not seek its own.” To say it another way, “Love’s obstacle is an obsession that is hindered by the self—our false self---that tries to engage the faces of culture instead of the face of God.” When we are working on how we look before others through the template of cultural protocols we miss the genuine presence and life of the other. Instead we are thinking about how we look before others. When this is our major concern all our relationships are tainted with concern for our own image. We are called to get over this practice of obsessing on our false self for the practice of finding the true self in others and in ourselves. When we can’t get over ourselves we are unable to see the real person in front of us. We need a new spiritual focus to overcome this constant habit.

Jesus and Paul’s teachings on love understand that love is an inward movement before it is an outward display. Both point to the need for an inward change in our self perception before we can properly move to a relationship of mutuality and trust. In order to do this our first relationship of change must be with God. Before we can truly extend the love of God and our love to others we must first be educated by the only true teacher---God. Our relationship with God educates us toward recognizing and embracing the uniqueness of others. When we begin to see the other’s distinctiveness and not judge it, we are moving from our false self into a truer perception of the world.

We see Jesus take his listeners through this education process in two important stories. First, there is the story of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee. These two men, that don’t see one another but instead have their own inward concerns, go up to the Temple to live out their religious duty. Neither one has a spiritual concern for the other, but both have their own interests in what is happening.  The Pharisee has his religious concern and pride about who he is in relation to others. He does not see others for their distinctiveness but sees them only in comparison to himself. He cannot love the Tax Collector because he really cannot see him. His time with God has not proven to be a valuable experience. He has not become a person who can love others. The Tax Collector cannot see the Pharisee either because he is concerned about finding God in his inward self. His relationship with the world cannot be established yet because he needs to engage God and be educated.

Both these men have turned inward. But the Pharisee did so to elevate himself over others. He operates from his false self that he has received from his culture’s promise of admiration. The Tax Collector has moved inward in order to shed the falseness and destructiveness of his life. He knows that it can only be done through a relationship with God. His repentance is his desire to be educated by the one true teacher. Therefore, he is in a position to actually love once his education is complete.

The other story is the Prodigal Son. The Father sees the son as someone worth loving. In order to do this he must put out of his mind all the other voices from the community and his family. He doesn’t allow any of them to be obstacles to loving his son. His inward journey has resulted in accepting what is true about God and what is true about his son. From this experience the son has a chance to change his perception of himself and others.

The process of being able to love is what John was trying to convey to his church in his letter I John 4:13-16. He says, “My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dying to Self: Its Purpose and Meaning (Mark 8:34-36) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



I’m always amazed that Jesus pressures his audience and his disciples to accept some new level of direction for living. He never lets you rest in some banal or cozy concept of life, he pushes forward to a greater capacity to see life in some exciting way, in God’s way. For instance, life is not just finding happiness; it is finding a way through the hang-ups and spiritually oppressive dimensions of life to find freedom. He is never complicated, but always simple. He doesn’t make you jump through mental puzzles but presents this new life simply. He says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” It is up to us to figure out what he means by “self” and “deny” however. All we have to do is reflect on what it is we desire instead of God. Once we can imagine it and come to grips with it then we are in a position to contemplate our real selves. We can reach beyond our immediate concerns that trip us up. We can let go of the dreams that link us to dissatisfaction and failure, not to God.

To deny ourselves is not to hate ourselves but to love ourselves in God and our purpose. We are not to think that we need to get rid of all our worldly possessions and live without pleasure.  We are to think about what it means to be a true self in the world. This can only be understood through the life of contemplation. We will miss Jesus’ call if we stay too long listening to the enticements that turn us to the satisfactions of life and not the hope of life. Contemplation breaks the dark spell of the spin of affirmation and admiration we seek in order to make us happy.

So much pain and suffering goes down the road of acquiring and seeking admiration. We are constantly disappointed in that adventure. I can’t help but think of the movie Citizen Kane in light of Jesus’ call to follow him. Here was a man with everything given to him. Somewhere in his life he wanted to do the right thing, he wanted to help humanity. But his inward life was so damaged by his childhood that he could not find a way for the emptiness of his to be filled by something other than power. His whole life was driven by this desire to be admired but it could never fill him up. He was constantly dissatisfied. At the end of his life all he wanted, amidst all his money and fame, was his childhood. The mysterious last words of his life reveal what he really wanted, but couldn’t get out of his way to get---his childhood. Of course his last words were---Rosebud. This was the name of his small sleigh that he used to ride in his happy moments of childhood. He couldn’t get off the road to fame; collecting things or his desire for admiration long enough to reflect on what it is that is important. We all have a bit of Citizen Kane in us, which is why Jesus says so clearly, “Take up your cross, deny yourself and follow me.” 

It would be a mistake to think that only a few people can achieve what Jesus requests. That it is only for the courageous and well disciplined that enter monasteries without the distractions of modern life. We would do a disservice to the hope of Jesus if we do. Jesus believed that anyone can turn their life around, deny themselves so they can follow Jesus with clarity and integrity. We can’t let ourselves off the hook by saying that Jesus only meant this for a few. He meant it for the economically challenged and the ones who have all they need. He meant it for the emotionally damaged and those who have more stable emotional life. There is no excuse for not pursuing his admonition to “Take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow him.”  Saint Francis was not an extraordinary man in this regard; he was instead a humble man who followed the vision of Christ simply and beautifully. His story can become ours as well. 

To deny ourselves can be understood as we look at the way Jesus lived his life. He lived his life according to the purpose he was called. In order to achieve his purpose he had to think outside the box of what it means to live in his beloved community and under the direction of God. To achieve his purpose he needed put aside the need to fulfill all the desires inside him. He needed to put aside seeking admiration of his fellow community, build his wealth and to think of his self before others. To do this he needed to discoverer his true self and his real purpose in life. Then he directed his life toward that purpose. This is our task as well. To deny ourselves is not to limit our pleasure, but to increase our pleasure in God.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Solitude: Gateway to Freedom (Psalm 46:10) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke


We often think of solitude as a monk in a tiny room performing his prayers or a person who decides to run away from the world living in the desert or the mountains. In other words, someone who lives away from the world, away from people. It means finding your way in the world alone; deciding what to do and living without others. But this is just the geography of what we think solitude is. Solitude is not about geography or about absence of contact; it is rather a spiritual reality that has nothing to do with being alone. We often set solitude up this way so that we don’t have to face the reality of what it is: which is being alone with ourselves and God. It means facing our inner selves, our regrets, our weaknesses and our true self. That is why when many of us who decide to just be with ourselves for the day or to just spend a few minutes reflecting on meaningful things find something else to do. Soon as we sit down or walk down the street our minds create possibilities of action that we must race back to. Before you know it we are back in the same habitual actions that are not guided by any meaningful direction.

Solitude is not loneliness, either. Loneliness is a world of sorrow. But solitude is a world of enlargement and joy. Solitude is a way of retracing steps with God and finding a way to take future steps with God. Psalms 46 is an expression of the purpose of solitude. The Psalmist begins his journey of solitude stating his experience of God’s protective nature. And then at the end he says “stand back and be still and know that God is God.” What he is requesting of the worshipper is to remove himself from the everyday activities, be still and think about God’s protective nature. Think about God’s love, mercy, grace and parental qualities and then engage God accordingly. We cannot address God accordingly except through what we learn in silence and solitude after bringing into these moments scripture and our reflection.

Think about how you chose your friends and how you stay friends. It is usually after spending hours and hours together doing things together and an equal amount of time being alone with your friend and exploring for intimate thoughts. The strengthening of the relationship is done within these intimate moments. The strengthening of the relationship comes as a result of love and builds itself so it can even withstand the hurt and pain of the other. Friendships that can be easily destroyed by a few words, even though words are powerful, it is a weak relationship. However, friendships that withstand the storm of disagreement are based on love. Solitude, and the desire for solitude, is a desire for love. For it is only in those moments that relationships can be strengthened.

We seek solitude because we seek the other, God. It is the beginning of the journey to be open, receptive and letting go. We can’t do this unless have a sense of trust and goodness in the other. The story of the Canaanite woman who had a sick child illustrates the desire to know the other. Jesus came into a region of the country that made his disciples uncomfortable. These were people they considered not worthy of their company. Jesus began teaching and soon a woman came screaming out of the crowd. She wanted Jesus to heal her child. She knelt before him, screamed at him and finally went up to him face to face. She pleaded with him to come to her sick daughter. Jesus said abruptly, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” This is what many Jews called the Canaanites. Instead of getting up in anger she agreed with Jesus, but added, “Even the dogs get the crumbs.” Of course she did this because if there was a chance of her daughter being healed she wanted to take it. But there is another side to this. She engaged Jesus because somehow she knew him. She knew that he was more compassionate than that statement. Jesus told her to go home because her daughter was healed. Then he said, “I haven’t seen such faith in all Israel.”

She found more than her initial desire. Stepping into solitude is like stepping into the unknown. We, more than not, get more than what we are seeking  in silence. What we find in these moments is more ease in being open, we learn to be more receptive, which then gives us the strength to let go of our false self. This woman found more than she wanted. She found a friend and a new image of God who loves, is gracious and kind. She found more reasons to seek solitude to find the God of Jesus. But if she returns to her old habits of prejudice and bitterness she will soon lose what she found in that moment.

God is reaching out to us everyday saying, “Be still and know that I am your friend. Be still and let me help you. Be still and get to know me.” To do this we must seek solitude.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Finding Breath to Praise (Psalm 150) by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke



To praise anyone, especially God, you have to step back from yourself and then immerse yourself in the glory of that person. It is in many ways like learning to sing. Many rock and roll singers have short careers because they don’t understand how to sing. They can’t step back from the affect their persona has on the crowd and they forget to breathe, to find the right pitch and diction. Singing is an exercise, a physical appreciation of body and soul that brings forth the depth of passion in the song. It means pushing everything else away from your mind and body, all the anxiety and fear that can close the throat and hurt the pitch. It means first learning to breathe and feel the air as a wonderful gift of life moving through your body to provide the perfect sound. You have to stand back from the pain of your life, the fear of your life, and the doubt of your life before you can see what is truly worth praising.  These are breathing lessons of the heart. We need to learn to breathe again to feel the freshness, the freshness and the exuberance of the air. To praise God we need to breathe: we need breathing lessons.

Praise is not easy; it finds itself stuttering off the tongue. It is born out of the things we see, the things we pay attention to not necessarily from passion. Praise comes from the flowers that smell beautifully, the trees the stand majestically, and the people in our lives that stand courageously. Praise is observation before it is inspiration. In order to stand before the world to praise a God that many find objectionable, we need to learn to pay attention. Praise is beyond wanting; it is listening without wanting anything for ourselves. Praise is beating the drums because there is nothing else to do. It is strumming a guitar with melody and vibrant excitement because you have lost yourself in the sound of the chord. When things become pedantic, there is no praise, there is only precision and personal enjoyment. But when the keys excite you, and when the strings compel you, and when the breath through the trumpet brings you joy, then you are on your way. It all begins with breathing lessons.

Imagine yourself as a Jewish person in the 8th century B.C. You have lost your homeland, but your heart yearns for the times you sang with your family, you sang with your friends in the temple to the delight of your heart. Then you are removed from this experience. You try to sing but you need to learn how to do it under a new king and a new God being praised all around you. So you go into your houses and in the fields, when your captors are not looking, and you sing your songs. Your breathing was free; your mind was captivated with the hope of going home. And then you find yourself transported home to the temple with the songs of tradition. Would not you want to free yourself from the shackles of your captors and sing with the triumphant sounds of praise? You praise God because of the hope in your singing, the hope in your breath. All this takes new breathing lessons to praise God.

What are these breathing lessons necessary to praise God?
· Praise does not begin in the noisy atmosphere of the busyness of life. It begins as we step back from this atmosphere and listen for the distinct voices that form the chorus of sound. It is paying attention to the voice of stillness, the voice of patience, the voice of goodness, and the voice of wisdom. It is listening to the wind through the trees that may frighten but also ignite a sense of life and power.
· Praise is perfected through the practice of listening as we learn to breathe again with the breath of God. As the confusion inside us begins to calm down and we breathe in the fresh air of God, our mind begins to attach itself to the ways of living that honor God.
· Praise is set loose in the act of living or as in this Psalm, the act of playing. On the drum we raise up from our silence and set loose the joy of praise. As we strum a chord it raises a smile on our face because of its wonderful sound. In the same way, when we live harmoniously with God and others there is a smile arranged in our heart which is the praise of God.

For the Psalmist, one of his goals in life was to “rediscover the breathing lessons” that can produce a wonderful sound. That is what he wants for his life: to find the spiritual harmony between himself and God.