“…a thousand may fall…”

Oh my word. I have so much I could say. There is just so much going on. I just listened to the press briefing from President Trump and his team fighting this virus. I do believe there is a lot more going on, in the background. But that is another discussion. I trust and I believe.

Depending on which translation of the Bible you use, the verses and books can be numbered differently. In spite of that, I thought to offer you a Psalm for your reflection, and perhaps some peace. When I read this for my Lenten Study, I have to tell you, it resonated deeply for me. This week’s reflection theme is prayer, and when I re-read the Psalm from last week, it sunk in even deeper. The reflection from St. Theophan the Recluse, written in 1864, is so incredibly relevant today. Here are bits and pieces, and then I will give you the Psalm.

“Not every act of prayer is prayer. Standing before your icons, or in church, and venerating them is not yet prayer, but the “equipment” of prayer. Reading prayers either by heart or from a book, or hearing someone else read them is not yet prayer, but only a “tool” or method for obtaining awakening prayer. Prayer itself is the piercing of our hearts by pious feelings towards God, one after another – feelings of humility, submission, gratitude, doxology, forgiveness, heart-felt prostration, brokenness, conformity to the will of God, etc.” And he goes on to say, “Finally, when you finish your prayers, do not go immediately off to any sort of work, but remain and think at least a little about what you have just finished and what now lies before you. If some feeling was given to you during prayer, keep it after you pray….”  And then he said, “He who has tasted sweet things does not desire bitter things.” And “All praying leaves prayer in the soul…”

Perhaps we can focus more deeply in these troubling times, on how we approach prayer, and where it takes us, and where it touches us deeply. Maybe its resonance will be spread everywhere. And prayer definitely gives us peace. “Acquire a spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved. ” (St. Seraphim of Sarov)

So here we go. Depending, like I said, on which translation you use, this is either Psalm 90 or 91

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

And therein lies the promise to all of us. The Lord, who we call upon and call our refuge, will not allow harm to overtake us. I find such comfort here. And I hope you, whomever you are and whatever circumstance you find yourself in, will also draw comfort and peace.