My Life with Psalm 139

I had the great blessing of attending both the Schools of Discernment and Lectio Divina at the Benedictine Center. I entered into each School not sure of what I might experience, but open to divine guidance. Both times the text that seemed to choose me was Psalm 139:1-16.

As I engaged the psalm then and still listen inwardly to it now, the context of my life story and the creation story continue to reveal the text’s depth. I would like to share just two examples of this living revelation.

“Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?” (7, New American Bible)

Over months of praying with Psalm 139 I have come to realize that it is futile to try to run or hide from God. Whether my hiding is motivated by fear, shame or lack of confidence, this verse has prompted me to pay attention when I notice the desire to run from God’s presence. Without prayerful reflection and contemplation, I might not have recognized the invitation to surrender and to God’s unending care and the freedom that follows.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” (13-14, NAB)

The clear and beautiful image in this text is God knowing us intricately and intimately even before we were born. As a person who was adopted as a child, I have often been caught by these words, believing they did not apply to me. In my mind I was given away, unwanted. Psalm 139 helps me come to believe more and more deeply that we are all intentionally part of God’s creation—never, ever a mistake.

My life with Psalm 139 has been variously enriching, frustrating, and hope filled, yet one prayer continues to inspire my interaction with the text, “God, Psalm 139 keeps being placed before me in many ways. What might I still need in order to truly see and believe?”

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