I stretched forth my hand against myself;
I have broken my covenant.
My speech is softer than butter,
but war is in my heart.
My words are smoother than oil,
but they are drawn swords.
Cast your burden upon the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous stumble.
(Psalm 55, adapted)
The class I’m taking this fall at Bexley Seabury is called “This Dangerous Book” for a reason.
We’re together investigating how texts, images, and sounds in juxtaposition can help us experience the Bible at a heart level rather than in our heads.
Our exercise last night was to do some free association on a text appointed for All Saints’ Day. The reading from the Book of Daniel stirred up in me various “beasts” like Daniel saw “in the visions of his head as he lay in bed.”
I saw in my vision by night
the four winds of heaven
stirring up the great sea
and four great beasts
came up out of the sea
different from one another.
Though I am struggling with several “great beasts” — various kinds of sin in my life — the experience of the saints reassures me that I am not alone. I am not unique in my struggles, and in fact I can learn how to live from those “who have come out of the great ordeal” before me (Rev. 7:14).
In many recovery programs, those who have gone before are called sponsors; in our tradition they are called saints. Thanks be to God that we are not left to deal with our “great beasts” alone, that we are not left to swim the great sea by ourselves.
We are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).