Dixi, Custodiam

Sorry, no real blogging today. Readers who are non-religious may want to skip this post.

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The Wayfarer, by Hieronymus Bosch 1500-1502Sometimes I have a strong need for the 39th Psalm. During difficult times, parts of it will just appear in my head, causing me to reach for a Bible or a prayer book so I can remember the rest.

What follows is a sort of blend between the Jerusalem Bible version and that of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, rewritten to reflect the way I remember it when I need it.

At times like this, that is.

    Psalm 39
1   I said, “I will keep watch on my actions, so that my tongue gives no offense.
2   “I will muzzle myself as long as the wicked are near me.”
3   I remained silent and said nothing; I refrained from speaking evil, even though my suffering was unbearable.
4   My heart was smoldering, and, while I pondered all this, it burst into flame and my words escaped from me:
5   Lord, tell me what my end will be, and the number of my remaining days, so that I will know how frail my life is.
6   You have given me no more than a moment of life; my days are nothing to you. Those who stand tall on the earth are only a puff of wind.
7   Each of us moves like a shadow, and our turmoil is in vain; the riches we amass are to be taken by those we do not know.
8   So, Lord, what can we hope for? My hope is in you.
9   Release me from the burden of my sins and do not let me be ridiculed by fools.
10   I remain silent; I will speak no more, since you yourself have been at work.
11   Remove from me your affliction; I am worn out from the blows you have dealt me.
12   You have punished us with the wages of sin; like a moth, you eat away all that we hold dear; each of us is indeed only a puff of wind.
13   Lord, hear my prayer; attend to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping.
14   I am your guest, and will be here only for a little while; I am a wanderer, as were all my ancestors before me.
15   Turn your gaze from me that I may breathe easily again, before I go my way and am no more.

[Nothing follows.]

6 thoughts on “Dixi, Custodiam

  1. Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum: verumtamen
    justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorium prosperatur? &c.

    Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
    With thee; but sir, so what I plead is just.
    Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
    Disappointment all I endeavor end?
    Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
    How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
    Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
    Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
    Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
    Now, leaved how thick! laced they are again
    With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
    Them, birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
    Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
    Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

    – Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889

    The Latin title is Jeremiah 12:1. Hopkins, a Jesuit priest, never saw any of his works in print during his lifetime – but with their posthumous publication in 1918 he took his place among the English poets. Though he felt himself time’s eunuch, the lord of life was indeed sending his roots rain, at the very moment when he was lamenting the dearth of it – thus enabling him to breed a work that wakes even today, in the heart of this correspondent.

    I try to keep our Creator’s subtlety in mind when I’m feeling forsaken.

  2. “So, Lord, what can we hope for? My hope is in you.”
    “Lord, hear my prayer; attend to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping.”

    Feeling bad about ourselves is a common problem. None of us is perfect, but at the same time we are not expected to be. Only Allah is Perfect in every way. So we should try to be fair with ourselves and maintain realistic expectations of ourselves.
    We see how Allah rewards us for our patience and hard work through the most difficult times. Sura 10:64: “No change can there be in the Words of God. This is indeed the supreme felicity.”

    Meanwhile, Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to sit in the US Congress, reports Rep. Tom Tancredo to the Capitol Police. Tancredo’s office is located near Ellison’s on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building and Tancredo was smoking a cigar! Well, that would never do!
    Is Ellison working for the people of Minneapolis—or is he working for Islam?

  3. Where are the scientists to whisper this lament into my ear? Where in their cold cosmos and the beautiful, brittle logic of quarks and Krebs and supernovae does an atheist go to find comfort and solace and unrequited anguish?

    Readers who are non-religious may want to skip this post, but if they seek more than just facts, they shouldn’t.

  4. For your “consternation”:(NIV)

    Psalm 51:10-12

    Create in me a pure heart, O God
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.


  5. Beautiful. In the midst of a tough time in my life, this is comforting, even though I’m only slightly Christian. I sent it to my Mom, who I’m sure will appreciate it. As a4g says, this kind of solace can’t be found in science. Thanks.

  6. The following has been circulating via e-mails. I have removed the prologue and the supposed signator as I am not sure if they really generated the letter, however, I put it out there for comment, as it appears to have reason and fact supporting it and after thinking about it all day, want to hear others opine.

    There is some very interesting information. Some food for thought!!!
    Muslims hate us & everyone else so much? Doesn’t their God teach them to love? Can a good Muslim be a good American?
    I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years.

    The following is his reply:

    Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia.

    Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except
    Islam (Quran, 2:256)

    Scriptural – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of
    Islam and the Quran (Koran).

    Geographically – no Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
    Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make
    friends with Christians or Jews.

    Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual
    leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of
    America, the great Satan.

    Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and
    scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34) .

    Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American
    Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.

    Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow
    freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist.

    Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic
    Spiritually – no. Because when we declare “one nation under God,” the
    Christian’s God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as
    heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in The Quran’s 99 excellent names.

    Therefore after much study and deliberation….perhaps we should be very
    suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both
    “good” Muslims and good Americans.

    Call it what you wish….it’s still the truth.

    If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above
    statements, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who
    understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

    Pass it on, Fellow Americans .

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