Wednesday, September 09, 2009

re-reading a psalm

"la escapadita" - phil nellis (2006)

i was a part of a great conversation last night around psalm 23. we read it 5 times and then did some reader-response. there was a range of responses- anything from "i find comfort in this text" to "this is bullshit" and everything in between. i mostly responded to the text out of a place of disconnect and disillusion regarding the imagery and promise being offered- it is a psalm so worn out that its' words have no traction in my heart, they only trigger memories of poorly crafted songs and lame sunday school imagery.

i have to find a way back into the text. what i have found helpful is to handle it almost as a creed, which to me feels a lot like fantasy. i read it and submit myself to it not because it is my experience but because i have to believe that it could be. certainly, there is something deep down that resonates in the memory of my soul, but it is primarily the imaginative task that can lead my fools' heart to hope. and that is the risk of course.

earlier this week i was internally preoccupied with "the valley of the shadow of death" and was at the same time being invited into imaginative play by my 4-year old son. there was a deep cynicism that resisted this, i even projected it upon him thinking, "play while you can, kid, someday life won't be so fun." but in the end, i let him pull me out of my "real world" into a world that proved to be more real in that our play changed my perception of the valley. we were lions, there was a parade with foxes and hedgehogs, we had a picnic in the jungle. i began to feel the comfort of a rod and a staff. i sensed a table prepared before me.

when the play was over, my soul had been restored and reality had been altered. fantasy had spilled back into my world of anxiety and despair, reorienting what i could say to be true in that moment. i had recited a creed that was not mine and i found myself in it. take my cynicism and give me the prophetic imagination that affirms as real that which could be, that which my heart longs for- give me eyes to see more than i see right now.


bryan nixon said...

seems that sylas, like his pop, is a prophet. wish i could've seen the play.

Anonymous said...

last paragraph-- amazing. mind if i post it on my (literal) wall?

elnellis said...

sure! who are you?

pedro said...

Lovely experience, lovely words.

I battled bitterness and anger on my drive to Oklahoma City and back the last two days [for work 24 hours of driving in 2 days. For the Man], but I also came to some realizations about decisions I need to make with my life. We can talk about it later.