Friday, February 1, 2013

Living on the edge

[Recording located at end of post]

23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green
     he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
     for his name’s sake
 Even though I walk
     through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
     for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow
     all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

a youthful Charlie Hicklin
This Scripture is almost rote to me; learned in childhood and uttered frequently over the years. I find it, as many others, calming, though I have never examined why beyond familiarity. It recently re-captured my attention at the memorial for a dear family friend. He was a mentor and teacher though I never thought about his spirituality until the service. The celebrant said Charlie had jotted down "lack of fear is significant" next to the 23rd Psalm in his college Bible.

His note has really stuck with me. Yesterday, I told my shamanic counselor that I, sometimes, feel paralyzed with fear. Not always, but often on days when my sleep has been interrupted or I experience a fibro flare-up.

I am attempting to live Charlie's philosophy, crafted at such an early age. It brought me back to the Bible and this passage. In reading it lectio-divina style, a meditative method, I penned what the passage said to me, stanza by stanza:

Knowing you, God,
     I have all that I need.

You offer me rest and restoration
     among nature's beauty.

You help me still myself
     and know my soul.

You guide me in
     Your work.

Following won't be easy
     or always light filled.

But I will have no fear as I am
    never alone or out of your care.

[Interrupted by thought: Why is Jesus important? In him, God gave us something tangible to trust.]

Your discipline and support
     are my guides.

You invite me into
     seemingly dangerous situations.

Yet you protect me, make me sacred;
     give me abundance

[Interrupted by a phone call; a client saying yes to a a project ... abundance]

If you're with me in darkness and evil,
     then I can trust you to always be there.

You are always
     with me and I, with You.

I find this contemplative Scriptural reading and my interpretation immensely helpful as I discern some next steps about vocation. When discussing following Spirit with my shaman, he said he believed I liked living on the edge. The edge? Spirit's. Gary knew I was concerned for the fate of the old school I occupy, where I have based my current work. He cautioned that following does not mean I won't be homeless.

God's real promise is that She will never leave me. She does not pledge health, wealth, shelter or immortality. Just that we will never be alone in those circumstances.

That is the edge when compared to the cultural myth that materialism equals success and happiness. Life, I am beginning to understand, is about growth with and toward Spirit.

• What does the 23rd Psalm say to me?
• How does fear affect me?
• How do I give that to God?
• What do I believe is God's promise?
• How do I live on the edge?

Listen to this post:


  1. I love your version of Psalm 23! Re-writing a scriptural passage is a great exercise for spiritual growth.

    A friend of mine likes to say that fear is just F.E.A.R. (Forgetting Everything Actually Real). When we remember the reality of God's inextinguishable, ever-present, all-powerful, and inexhaustible love for us, we overcome fear.

    Your thoughts about living on the edge reminded me of a blog I wrote about running in the splash zone. That has been my analogy for living on the edge. You can read it at: http://thechristheals.blogspot.com/2006/11/running-in-splash-zone.html


  2. Thank you, Colin and it has been that reminder of God's continuing presence and love that helps me overcome those fearful times. I enjoyed your idea of the splash zone and the narrow path between. I'm so visual and that was a great example. I'm also a swimmer and can't say enough about the living water. Good to hear from you.