The Educational Support Organization, Inc.
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The Nourishing Place
The Nourishing Thought: “Humans are never helped in our sufferings by what we think for ourselves, but only by revelations of a wisdom greater than our own. It is this which lifts us our of our distress.” Carl Jung
Words of Wisdom: Rumi believed we must learn to dance even in the midst of our pain. “Dance, when your broken open; dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off; dance in the middle of the fighting; dance in your blood. Dance, when you are perfectly free.”
“Believe God’s word and power more than your believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.” Samuel Rutherford
October 14, 2018 23rd Psalm
When I was about 20 years old my husband Neil and I lived adjacent to his grandmother’s dairy farm in Lyman. One huge pasture had Golden Guernsey cows. The pasture beyond that had sheep. Being a town girl I had never touched a lamb or a sheep. So one day, Neil’s grandmother Mrs. Ritchie asked me to go with her to give her sheep some treats. She carried a large bag of something that looked like smushed up cheerios. When we reached the fence line, Mrs. Rictchie called in a loud voice, Sheepa, Sheepa. And the sheep came running to her. She talked to, sang to them, then them threw their treats in a large arc so they all could have some goodies. We watched the sheep for awhile and then Mrs. Ritchie walked the fence line to make sure her sheep were safe. I was impressed. So much so, that about a week later I went to the sheep pasture by myself and in the same style as Mrs. Ritchie I called to the sheep. Sheepa, Sheepa. The sheep ignored me. I called again and again. Then the sheep ran away from me not to me.
I later confessed this to Mrs. Ritchie and she laughed. She said don’t you know sheep only respond to the voice of their shepherd? I did not know that. But it did bring to mind what the 23rd Psalm teaches us. We should respond only to the voice of a loving Lord.
The language used in the 23rd psalm is figurative yet it clearly leads us to an understanding of the meaning of the message. The overall theme is to welcome our God’s divine nature as our own and to utilize that internal connection to the divine to begin to experience heaven today, in the now.
We do that by accepting the truth that God is our shepherd and only his voice will keep us safe...that is, will provide salvation for us. His voice is his teachings and his leadership. He naturally provides for us the things that matter and the things that lead us to wholeness in connection to holiness.
Toward that end, the poem assures us God places in our paths comforts such as still waters and green pastures. Then we begin to desire his kind of loving peace in our own lives. When we feel at peace in the now, regardless of what is happening on the outside of us, God is restoring our souls to their original oneness with God. By leading us in the paths of righteousness, God affirms that indeed our souls are still part of his all. He is saying to us, I am alive in the very cellular structure of your humanity.
Then because we are human, and live in a more or less hostile world, we will face challenges...some very hurtful and serious challenges. Those are the times we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We do experience those times, but the psalm again reassures us we are not alone...God’s own rod and staff (that his his laws and teachings) are with us. They provide hope in the fearful moments. These holy laws and teachings of love and forgiveness can be the defense we have against going astray ourselves.
If we cling to God and his abundance during these tough times, then there will be provided a table for us, a table, a life, full of uncondtional love which is the anointing oil, and wisdom, the overflowing cup.
The amazing aspect of the poem or psalm, is that all the action except one is done by our God. The only action we take as his sheep is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Other than that, we trust God, we follow the teachings that make us wise and joyous, we accept the good blessings that flow to us and through us daily.
As modern day Christians, it is sometimes difficult to understand imagery from3000 years ago when this psalm was written. However, the truth of it is eternal. That truth is that God loves each of us as individual reflections of God. He loves us so deeply he has invested his own holiness, love and wisdom inside of us so that we too will share that freeing love, that compassionate wisdom, with those we both love and do not love. When we do so then love will grow to include the even the unlovely who need love to become more humane themselves.
Because God created us he knows us very well. And he knows only choosing to join ourselves to him by living this teachings, will ever make us truly happy, joyous, and full of light. In that state of being in the now, we begin our eternal journey of enveloping heaven...that state of being that makes us forever one with him through our consent. Amen