Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10
I spent some time at a Trappist Abbey south of Portland toward the beginning of my sabbatical. I thought it would be a peaceful and restorative time. It was. I took long hikes on the property, had quiet meals with the other retreatants and worshiped at least twice a day. I napped and read and meditated. But what I did not expect was how agitated I became on my second to the last day. I was not at all at peace. There were old resentments that surfaced, old injustices that I had endured, as well as fear about the future. “What happened to all that peace,” I wondered.
Well, part of the problem with doing interior work, just like when you clean out a closet or the garage, you raise some dust, or you create an even bigger mess before you can clean out what needs to go. I had spent enough time with myself (with my cell phone off), that all this old pain re-surfaced. And then I felt angry with myself for not having “let go of all that old stuff.” It was not until I went to worship and heard the brothers chanting the psalms that I could find that peace again. Worship was the antidote that I needed. Meditation, in and of itself, cannot bring peace. I believe that meditation and worship can. Simply stopping and being present to yourself, your emotional state, your spiritual attitude, can let pain, old or new, physical or emotional, come to your awareness. This is a step toward maturity, but it can bring more agitation than peace.
Worship on the other hand, is an acknowledgement that I am not God and only God is God, and God loves me and forgives me, gives his body and blood to me and has work for me to do in God’s Kingdom. That gives me peace. Every time.
So, as you live your life and as we live life together as a congregation, I admonish you to worship whenever and wherever you can. I know that this is not a great revelation to most of you but take it as a gentle reminder. Amidst the storms and waves of this life there is a safe harbor in the One Who Saves.
God’s never-failing peace be with you.
Pr. Bob Albing