Even if you’re skeptical, please don’t close your mind to the power of sacred writings. Eastern or Western, pragmatic or mystical, they arise from seekers of truth in all times and places. Their wisdom sings across the centuries.
Consider Psalm 84 from Hebrew scripture, a song for all ages. Even a few of its verses can guide our paths.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Verses 5-7)
No matter how you conceive of the “you” in these verses, or envision your final destination, this underlying truth reverberates.
Life can be a journey of ever-freeing epiphanies. As we embrace these changes with a pilgrim’s heart, even our desert experiences transform into oases of learning. We gain strength from each tutelage until we reach our final step.
I recently made two new acquaintances – one younger, one older. The young one is 73, the old one 32. What do I mean? The young man has adopted a political/religious mindset nearly impervious to new revelation or mystery. The older woman is child-like, not childish, gleaning daily instructions about love, grace, and freedom. Her heart is set on pilgrimage!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. (Verse 10)
In context, the author of Psalm 84 is longing for Jerusalem’s ancient temple, axis mundi of the Israelites. But another devout Jew, Paul of Tarsus, would say this to a group of Athenian elders thousands of years later: “The God who made the world and everything in it…does not live in shrines made by human hands…” (Acts 17:24)
Think of the present moment in all its beauty. This is the “temple” in which we experience God – sky above, earth below. When we open our arms to creation without regrets or anxious preoccupations – when we simply enter the splendid courts of NOW – time transforms.
Some of you will understand this confession. For too many years, I allowed my conditioned mind to rob me of daily joy. I was driven by fears, control issues, preoccupations, and ambitions. Without a personal spiritual awakening, Ben Franklin’s famous words would have been my headstone epitaph: “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”
Instead, in my pilgrim’s heart and mind, I have discovered a deeper, unfolding truth. It is contained in verse 10 of Psalm 84.
God can redeem our time! No matter how we have squandered our previous days, the present can open up with stunning density and richness. A thousand to one ratio is hyperbole, but I can tell you this. The more I learn to practice mindfulness, the more each day carries a weight far beyond its 24-hour limits. There is so much living to savor!
So…across millennia, Psalm 84 sings these truths to all of us. Set your hearts on the joy and strength of this journey. Let God redeem your time with a vibrancy beyond imagination.