Delight in the Word

Sister alies therese

By Sister alies therese

U.S. author Karen Cushman, in “The Ballad of Lucy Whipple” said: “Look was pa’s favorite word; it meant admire, wonder, goggle at the beauty and excitement all around us.” What ‘word’ does this for you? One of my favorites is delight. Consider poor Owl in A.A. Milne’s “Eeyore Loses a Tail:”

“For Owl wise though he was in many ways … somehow went all to pieces over delicate words like measles and buttered toast.” Oh my, how words vary with each of us!

Spring is well underway though convalescence continues I have been exploring ways to study scripture. Most of you no doubt are reading each day’s readings, preparing for the Eucharist, and finding new ways to deepen your knowledge and wisdom. One way is through the Magnificat that our little parish provides us. I am always on the lookout for a word, a single word that can help me do that. “Delight” has been in my heart. Exploring words and the Word is well worth time and energy! Anais Nin, a French American writer in her diary called my attention to this:

“A trite word is an overused word which has lost its identity like an old coat in a second-hand shop. The familiar grows dull and we no longer see, hear, or taste it. “

So, I have also been exploring ‘the Word’ in “The Message,” by Eugene Peterson … a poetic and modern language edition of the Bible (Catholic books not included). Some of you may well know it and realize that just the changing of a word enlightens the mind. He taught Greek and Hebrew and is a pastor and thought that the words one found sometimes did not express a modern understanding. It is neither a study Bible nor one with footnotes (but the Intros are very worth exploring). It is a reader’s Bible… Here is a simple example from the Gospel of St Luke:

“Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you … the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God … nothing is impossible to God… Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1)

“The Message” is not an attempt to ‘dumb-down’ the scriptures but to make available words that catch our hearts and minds. The Psalms, for example, are a good place to start in any translation! I love Psalm 62:“God, the One and only – I’ll wait as long as God says. Everything I need comes from God, so why not? God is a solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.”
I love that … breathing room for my soul! Delightful.

Psalm 142 anchors the cry of our word in the anguished hope that God will come to our aid:
“I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy. I spill out all my complaints before God, and spell out my troubles in detail.”

Maybe you’ve never read the scriptures. I know that sounds nuts but often people listen at Mass and hope for the best. Indeed, the reading of the scriptures is a pleasure and our source of goodness and promise. How will I know what God has promised me if I do not read His Word? What can I delight in? What can help me when I am ill or fearful, joyful or expectant? Though in our Catholic tradition most of the Bible is read aloud over the 3-year cycle, each day I need the Word for sustenance, I need to hear God tell me who He is, what He has done for us, how I might follow.

Another favorite is Job and his saga with three ‘friends’ who do him no good, and a God who loves him dearly but seems silent at times. Maybe you have had this experience?

“Please, God, I have two requests, grant them so I’ll know I can count on You: First, lay off the affliction; the terror is too much for me. Second, address me directly so I can answer You, or let me speak and then You answer me. … Why do You stay hidden and silent? Why do You treat me like I’m Your enemy? You watch every move I make, and brand me as a dangerous character.” (Job 13)

Exploring the Word and finding delight draws us close to our God who left us all these inspirations and promises that we might live with God forever. The human authors and saints that follow are there to invite us into the Kingdom. In Isaiah 42:1 (referring to Jesus) we are reminded:

“Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One, in whom My soul delights … I have put My spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” In whom does your soul delight?

(Sister alies therese is a canonically vowed hermit with days formed around prayer and writing.)