I live in the second poorest country in the Americas with the highest homicide rate in the world.
But why do I find myself full of joy and at peace here?
This morning’s psalm 46 from Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours may provide a clue.
As I prayed it – first in Spanish and then in English – I noted that the three strophes have different but related themes. Here are some initial thoughts, that will be my day-long meditation.
1. God is our refuge, our helper – therefore, “we do not fear.”
Fear is so debilitating; it isolates us and keeps us from really living. It turns the other person into a threat to my existence.
There are lots of things to fear – crime, being rejected, death, sickness, bugs. These paralyze us and keep us from seeing the goodness of people and of God’s creation. But God is our refuge.
2. God’s stream of water “gives joy.”
God is so gracious and the source of joy. I have been blessed with a smile and have inherited a hearty sense of humor from my Dad. Even in the midst of pain and injustice, God has let me see the marvels of God’s love – the beauty of creation, the holiness and love of the poor I work with.
3. God is a disarming God
“Consider the works of the Lord…. He puts an end to wars over all the earth; the bow he breaks, the spear he snaps; he burns the shields with fire.”
God not only dismantles the weapons of offense – the bow, the spear, the bomb, the machine gun; God burns with fire our defenses: shields, locked gates, barbed wire fences.
God calls us to be vulnerable, to be open. It’s not easy – and I always want some protection, some “security” precautions.
The end of the third strophe makes it clear:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
In stillness we can learn that God is, that I, John, am not god, that God is our strength – even in our weaknesses.
And that brings me joy.