I’ve been reading Norman Fischer’s “Open To You,” a Zen-inspired translation of the Psalms, and it is as compelling to me as the Kabbalah, in many ways. The earliest Jewish and Christian writers were amazing writers, and their words and images have touched a lot of hearts and souls. The Psalms were sung by Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani and by Rabbis at the Old Temple in Jerusalem.
They are disturbing as they are beautiful. As Fischer writes, what is challenging about “God” is exactly that is so emotional, metaphysically emotional. In the Psalms, he adds, the relationship to God is “a stormy one, codependent, passionate, confusing, loyal.” Still, they are, he says, among the most beautiful poems ever written. For me, the Psalms challenge me to open up, to give up my sense of control and petty worries and share my life with whatever it is that God comes to mean to me. To love something in a whole and giving way. Last night, I sat up and read from Psalm 19:
“The Heaven express your fire,
The night sky is the work of your hands
Day after day is your spoken language
Night after night your perfect knowing
There is no speech, there are no words
Their voice falls silent
Yet the music plays everywhere
To the end of the earth its clear notes float out
To the end of the words the words pronounced
Become a tabernacle for the sun
That come out like a bridegroom in his chamber
A robust runner to run his days’ course
To the end of the heavens he races
And back again he returns
And there is nothing hidden from his heat.
Your pattern is perfection
It quiets the soul that knows it
And its eloquent expresson
Makes everything clear”
Even in Orlando, the Psalms quiet my soul.