At Sea

Psalm 131 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
131 (0) A song of ascents. By David:
(1) Adonai, my heart isn’t proud;
I don’t set my sight too high,
I don’t take part in great affairs
or in wonders far beyond me.
No, I keep myself calm and quiet,
like a little child on its mother’s lap —
I keep myself like a little child.
Isra’el, put your hope in Adonai

I don’t have much to say to add to this. It’s the second shortest psalm in the Bible, and it made me think of verse 20 from the Tao te Ching:

How much difference between yes and no?
What difference between good and bad?

What the people fear
must be feared.
Oh desolation!
Not yet, not yet has it reached its limit!

Everybody’s cheerful,
cheerful as if at a party,
or climbing a tower in springtime.
And here I sit unmoved,
clueless, like a child,
a baby too young to smile.

Forlorn, forlorn.
Like a homeless person.
Most people have plenty.
I’m the one that’s poor,
a fool right through.

Ignorant, ignorant.
Most people are so bright.
I’m the one that’s dull.
Most people are so keen.
I don’t have the answers.
Oh, I’m desolate, at sea,
adrift, without harbor.

Everybody has something to do.
I’m the clumsy one, out of place.
I’m the different one,
for my food
is the milk of the mother.

Micah 3:1-8
Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against him
who puts nothing into their mouths.
Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without divination.
This verse went right to my heart, piercing it with real-life images of politicians and lawyers; CEO’s and senators; presidents and pundits; marketers and swindlers; all wanting something for their own benefit; something to put into their own mouths; who don’t care about simple kindness and who never stop to think about where their path is leading them: into night without vision, and darkness without divination. Oh desolation!

Luke 7:36-50
47 Because of this, I tell you that her sins — which are many! — have been forgiven, because she loved much. But someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.”
I couldn’t help but notice in the passage from Luke, there is a subject-object switch. The forgiver forgives much because of much love; but the forgiven love only a little because they have been forgiven only a little. At first it sounds like a sort of quid pro quo, but on a closer look it’s clear that it just doesn’t work like that. Love doesn’t get doled out in some kind of measurable amount. A lot of love doesn’t mean a whole lot of little love-coins to be given away. No, love is measured more in depth and width and breadth; in the vast extent of available love-space. If there is only a little latitude for love, then there is only a slight span of forgiveness.
So, forgiveness is not a quantity of something to be conferred on one person from another. It sounds like Jesus is saying that forgiveness is a function of love. Love and forgiveness are indistinguishable from one another. It’s not about forgiving, it’s about loving. Love a lot, then there’ll be a lot of forgiveness to go around. Love only a little, doling out kindness and affection from our skeptical little lock-boxes of insecurity, and the forgiveness to be had will be pinched and scanty.

It seems to be holding up—

this leaky, do-it-yourself raft

that I mended so awkwardly,

with nothing more

than some burning twigs

from a bush I found

way out in the wilderness.

I’m barefoot;

short of a paddle;

out of sight of any horizon;

and it’s getting dark.

So why does the slow

roll of the sea feel like

the rocking of a cradle?


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