Grateful for a silent retreat-Psalm 23-A psalm of friendship
I have only recently returned from a 5 day long silent meditation retreat sponsored by the Jewish Spirituality Institute.The following represents the result of one important insight I arrived at in relation to my effort to pray more meaningfully to God.
“The Lord is my shepherd”
yud-hey-vav-hay, the God of Love, is my shepherding Friend my
“yedid nefesh”-soul mate,life force,my pal.
(one simple vowel change in the word for my shepherd-”ro’ee” and we have “rey-ee”
“ I shall not want”
I will not be wanting,I will feel accepted for myself, without the critical demands
of perhaps a parent-Father ,even Mother-who, commonly invest too much in their children with excessive expectations to satisfy personal needs; a friend however supports and guides no matter what.
בנאות דשא ירביצני
על מי מנוחות ינהלני
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures , he leadeth me beside the still waters”
He shares with me his green pastures, we picnic together under the summer skies;
we dip our hands in the cool ripples of water, refreshing body and soul.
He sees to it that I not fall into the waters of the flowing sun- filled stream.
ינחני במעגלי צדק
“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”
When I stray because of hurt, fear or anger, he reminds me
of the transience of things, how the world turns in lopsided ways,
reassuring me of the gift of who I am because of his faithfulness to our friendship.
גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות
לא אירא רע
כי אתה עמדי
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”
Especially when confronted with dark times
because you are simply standing by my side,
I will not fear the worst, and will find the strength to continue into the sunshine.
שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמוני
“thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”
Whatever prop or support you use
will hold me up in these dire times and
comfort me-if a crook or walking stick,they will be used not to strike but to gently
guide and shepherd me out of the shadows into the light.
תערוך לפני שלחן נגד צררי
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”
You set an abundant table to share with all
in the face of those who would constrict my life
as they shut out the world
trapped in their desire to harm and hurt,
not heal or help.
דשנת בשמן ראשי כוסי רויה
“thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over”
When I feel dry and wilted in spirit
you douse me with moisturizing oils of trust and compassion
that replenish my soul
and I feel the gratitude that comes with having
so much in one’s life, announcing to all
“my cup spills over!”
אך טוב וחסד ירדפוני
כל ימי חיי
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Through your friendship,
I am assured that the future will hold
good times and those in which goodness
will fill my life
and those of others.
ושבתי בבית יהוה לארך ימים
“and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”
And I will finally become aware
of the everlasting reality of God’s love
as the ultimate desire of my life-be my friend so that
I shall no longer be wanting.