The fourth line in St. Romuald’s Brief Rule is: “The path you must follow is in the Psalms, you must never leave it.” Not much translation is needed on this one. I wrote: “The path you must follow is in the Psalms; never leave it.”
But what I’ve come to realize, for myself, is that my ‘path’ is in certain Psalms more than others. When I try to read through or pray through the Psalter from beginning to end, it becomes tedious and neither prayer nor devotion. I need to pick, like “the seasoned gardener waiting to pluck a tomato just ripe on the vine” (the preceding line in my translation of the Rule) the Psalms that feed my soul.
My favorite (no drum roll needed) is Psalm 23. I still remember the instant at Rev. Brackman’s Memorial Service when I heard Psalm 23 not just as a soothing word for the grieving but as an invitation to live. When I was sent to Tucson, after the shooting, to lead an ecumenical clergy retreat, I designed the day around the different movements within Psalm 23. I started with ‘yea, tho we walk…’ and ended the day with the first verses: ‘being restored by still waters, etc.’ Sometimes the craziness of life reorders the verses.
Another favorite is Psalm 1, “…like trees planted by streams of water…,” I want to prosper in all I do. I want the things I do to be fruitful so that others might be fed through my ministry and life. I want to be deeply rooted in the assurance of God’s love and not ‘wither’ in my trust in God’s grace and mercy.
And then there is Psalm 51:10-12:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
“The path you must follow is in the Psalms; never leave it.” – Indeed!