It’s 11 am and already eighty degrees.
We’re home from a beautiful weekend in Chicago, where I became godmother to my best friend’s baby. And as inevitably happens, we returned to find repairs needed, the AC having failed in yesterday’s record heat. So, I sit here sweating at my kitchen table, waiting for a technician to call back. And I’m thirsty.
But not only because it’s hot.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps 63:1
I’m thirsting for living water, a spiritual draught to cool my burnout, to refresh my weary spirit. As I said in my last post, I knew I’d worked harder than ever before this year, but when I stopped, I realized the fullness of the toll that pace had taken. It took an entire month to want to read the bible again, even though I know it’s where I’ll find what I need.
So, I came earnestly seeking in the heat of this morning, to a new bible I bought for myself as a sabbatical gift. Scripture and I need a fresh start. I’ve become so used to crafting it into sermons and teaching moments that I’ve forgotten how to dwell in it. In the recent past, I would meditate on one set of verses for weeks at a time, letting the words sink into me like rain into soil, reaching down into my dormant places where the Spirit was ready to bring life again. But that practice has dried up for me, as spiritual practices are wont to do after their time, and I need something new.
My new bible is interleaved with blank pages, as the Great Awakener Johnathan Edwards’ was, that white space calling to be filled as the Word awakens me. I’ve been learning about bible journaling via Pinterest for a few months, and now I have time to try. I opened this morning to the (divinely?) pre-placed ribbon, at Psalm 63. The psalmist’s thirst, the fainting flesh, the dry and weary land felt familiar, and came out aloud in my own voice. “Your steadfast love is better than life” I read on, “and my lips will praise you”, but my lips didn’t feel ready for praising. Perhaps they need the fiery lipstick of the seraph’s hot coal, as Isaiah’s did in the first reading from last Sunday.
“My soul will be satisfied” I read with holy longing and “in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy”. I’ve always loved that image of God’s wings overshadowing her people, like a protective mother bird. And this morning, the shadow was cool and dark, unreached by the blistering sun outside, a place less thirsty for my already parched soul.
The wing and the shadow beneath are the center of my first journaling page. It wasn’t until those were sketched that I considered myself singing for joy below them, and realized I am the baby bird, finding my song (again) in the softest, safest place imaginable. There’s joy in that shadow because Mama is blocking everything else out, and will keep her wings spread as long as I need. My soul will be satisfied here because Mama will make sure I’m fed and watered and sheltered. Her steadfast love is better than life, so I will cling to it like the fledgling I am.