Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Singing in the Wilderness

I’ve been reading God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us by L.L. Barkat, and one of the suggested exercises is to spend up to an hour in the yard every day for a week, simply sensing the world, perhaps lying on a blanket.

I didn’t do that. I have neighbors.

“Hey, Young! Whatcha up to?”

“I’m lying on a blanket for an hour.”

“I can see that, but why? Getting a suntan?”

“No, I’m sensing the world. Contemplating. Thinking.”

“Oh, doing nothing, huh? Well, you might want to know that the rabbits are chewing right through your zinnias.”

There was one element of this, though, that attracted my eye when I read it. “So let yourself go,” writes Barkat, “the way the Psalmist David probably did all those days and nights in the fields…and in so doing, heard the murmurs of God.”

There it was – a picture, a picture of being like David, out in the valleys, fields and caves, climbing in the mountains and crossing deserts – all to hide from Saul and his men. Hiding for his life. Long periods of isolation and separation, punctuated by short bursts of activity and (occasionally) confrontation.

What struck me as I saw this reference to David was that we know what he did while he wandered those places.

He sang songs.

And he wrote poetry.

We know this because we have the song poems in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, 70 of which are identified as “of David” and seven specifically identified as from the time of this “wilderness” period.

His life threatened, living in harsh conditions, exposed to all kinds of weather, chased by Saul and his soldiers, David wrote poetry. Beautiful poetry. Even in English translation from the Hebrew, the beauty of David’s psalms shines through, and has done so for 3,000 years. It’s also entered our collective consciousness with such phrases as “the valley of the shadow of death” (a write would have written “the valley of death;” a poet would write “the valley of the shadow of death”).

That such beauty came from David’s “dark night of the soul” is indeed something to contemplate and wonder.

Related: Celebration by Laura Boggess at The Wellspring.


Unknown said...

Love those thoughts...I let those rabbits chow down myself but that's just me.


Maureen said...

Nice post, Glynn.

Setting can be so important, So, really, you should try that lying on a blanket, out in the open, in your yard. Just be sure to pick a soft spot. Think of it as inspiration for your writing.

H. Gillham said...

Sounds awesome unless you are in the South here where the heat index is 105 by 7 am.

I like to do my contemplation in the coolness of the thermostat.

Great idea though -- I love it.

Sandra Heska King said...

Seems to be a recurring theme lately--this letting go, slowing down.

I wonder how long I'd make it, lying out in the yard, before I fell asleep.

Anonymous said...

just reading your thoughts of David and the beauty that came from Him, out of hard and dark experiences, gives me things of worth to consider.

S. Etole said...

Were that we all were so productive during those dark times ...

L.L. Barkat said...

Now see? Maureen says you need to sit on the blanket. And the only thing holding you back is that you feel silly.

Well, at least you're not going to be sitting on a red plastic sled. You could preserve a bit of dignity. :)

I'm with Maureen. What color blanket are you going to choose? :)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Awesome post. I love your imagined conversation with the neighbors. Too funny.

You know, I never thought much about David's writing poetry as he worked in the fields. I'm not sure where I thought he did it--not exactly at a desk with a sharpened pencil! I guess I created a distinction between the two activities, when there surely wasn't one.
This post makes me look for opportunities in my own working day to draw nearer to God. Even if I'm not hiding out from someone, or climbing mountains.

Unknown said...

You know those fake-grass mats they make? Just buy one, place it in the center of the living room, borrow a projector and project a video of clouds on the ceiling, play a nature-sounds cd, and lie down.... OR, you could just put up one of those tents with a mosquito netting ceiling in the yard.... *considers* There are many options for evading the neighbors, midnight being one of them.

Louise Gallagher said...

Great thoughts!

Duane Scott said...

Now... I really really want to read that book! I'm headed to B& right now to see if it's on Nook.

Awesome thoughts!

Michelle DeRusha said...

Really like this Glynn. And the thought of you hanging out on a blanket in the backyard with the neighbors inquiring made me laugh.

Jeff Jordan said...

Something about being outside...being in the shadows, breathing in the world. Inspiring...good for the soul.

Laura said...

I love how you made David come to life for me here. I wonder if he felt silly out there in the wild. Nah. He didn't have any nibby-nosed neighbors. NOthing but the sheep. Thanks for linking to my post, Glynn.