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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

A Response to Psalm 23

Fellow saint and sinner Jake Dell is a minister in the Episcopal Church.

Fellow saint and sinner Jake Dell (@jakedell73) has written a response to Psalm 23 and yesterday’s post which I have posted in full below.  It captures in a beautiful, C.S. Lewis sort of way, the nature of faith in God’s dawning kingdom (as a place where “goodness and love follow us all the days of our life”).  Such faith, Dell suggests, finds grounding in an experience of what is indeed real, only fleeting.  Maybe my own “unbelief” around Psalm 23, then, is  really more of an inability to live into these real, fleeting experiences of God’s love and goodness as if they actually were the whole point of existence rather than mere window dressing…

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I like your reflection on Psalm 23. I was thinking this morning of how my experience of love and affection has been like that of child walking into a delightful room full of toys, tucked away on some upper floor of a large country house, and finding at least one special playmate to play with.

Outside you can see the pretty English gardens, and it’s a warm, sunny day.

The sad part is that I’m seldom let up into that room to play; and when I am, no sooner are the toys off the shelf and the fun has begun, than the nurse (or is it a warden? A jailer even? Could it even be God?) pulls me by the scruff of the neck, and I’m back out in the corridor, alone.

I never know what happens to those toys or those playmates. Did someone make them go back to their chores too? Or did they get to keep playing? Did they find others to love and to love them? Maybe my erstwhile playmate didn’t even want me there in the first place and I was made to leave.

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To be sure, for a few minutes I can still feel what love and play felt like. But after a little while, a cynical doubt sets in. And I start to listen to the voices that tell me that there never was such a room full of toys, such a playmate, such fun, such love.

But maybe those brief moments in the playroom really are “all the days of my life” and the time in the corridor is a kind of living-death-in-purgatory. Maybe it’s the corridor that’s not real. But that’s little help.

I don’t find myself asking God to help me believe. I know what I experienced. That room was real. I find myself asking God to open that door back up, to let me back in, and this time, to let me stay.

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Moreover, I want that now, with the people I know now, with the woman I love now, with the children I have now. I don’t want it in the future. And certainly I don’t want to wait for some proposed life-after-death.

Another psalm tells us plainly: “The dead praise not thee, O Lord: neither all they that go down into silence. But we will praise the Lord, from this time forth, forevermore.”

If the psalm is true, then I want to be back in that room. Back with my toys. Back with my love. From this time forth and forevermore.

Got a comment for Jake or a response to Psalm 23 of your own? Leave it here, or send it along and I’ll post it!

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