Lent seems to be the time when I try to cram in a year’s worth of Bible study or prayer into 40 days. This year I decided to make my spiritual discipline small enough so I can “savor rather than stuff” as I described in my March 4th post. On Ash Wednesday I sat in church and listened to an exquisite musical version of Psalm 51 called Miserere Mei by Gregorio Allegri. Although it was sung in Latin, I followed along in English. For me, the words of Psalm 51 are some of the most beautiful and rich in the Bible. So Psalm 51 will be my Scripture focus for Lent this year.
Each day I choose a word from the Psalm and reflect on it in two ways. First I write the word on a piece of paper and start brainstorming. Everything that comes to my mind about the word ends up on the paper–whether it’s spiritual or silly. This stream-of-consciousness writing helps to clear my mind of everything I already know or perceive about the word. It makes room for my mind to receive something new about the word.
Then I write the word on my calendar and start to draw. This time I don’t consciously think about the word. I ask God to tell me what I need to hear. I listen to the word as it tells me new things about itself and I listen to God through the word. If I hear something new I write it down. This is a way of initiating a conversation with God using a single word from Scripture.
Below is the first week of my calendar and an example of what I did with one of the words: abundant. It has been a whole week and I’ve just started on verse 2 of the Psalm.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51, NRSV)