Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shivering and Fear

If you are going to Samech a set of verses, you need words like shivering. What stops shivering? A hug. Be hugged - be touched.

Rachel Barenblat has begun a series of postings on her recent week of Sabbaths - here is love working. One line from her last post, quoting the course description, is this:

"The physicist Neils Bohr once said that the opposite of a simple truth is a falsehood, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth."

I want through just a simple list of connected things to end with one word: fire - which I will come to. The connections are everywhere - even the middot (from Rachel's post) - what to measure, connects to all that we measure wrongly (why God was angry at one census and yet commanded others!) Iyov pointed me to the witheringfig also this morning - where Stephen Hebert (I will run out of capacity for reading soon) has noted some problems with census and focuses only on the one key - relationship.

John Hobbins reads Nahum to us with a warning: the following program requires reader discretion. And I yesterday completed a draft of part Samech of Psalm 119. I still have the acrostic working, but I have had to degenerate into street language and extra words occasionally. And I may have to disallow sh among s's or use only soft c's. But the psalmist had advantages too with Hebrew prefixes.

The last verse of Samech is about shivering and fear. Nahum is about wrath. What do we do about the profound truth of God's wrath?

Here is a little ditty from Blake on human wrath

I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath
my wrath did end

I was angry with my foe
I told my wrath
my wrath did grow

The psalmist loves God and God's statutes, teaching, testimonies, word, promise, precepts, and judgments (more on these when I really finish this psalm) - but also fears them, flesh shivering from dread. I cannot put my thought so carefully as Blake but here it is prosaically.

There is one fire. If somehow we turn, our faces are brightened. If we flee, we are pursued. So the fire is never far from us that we should have to do something too hard. But not to turn is both not to be able to face ourselves and not to be able to receive what is truly ours. The fire of wrath burning through our back is fear and shame. The same fire is of love when we have turned and been fully found by the covenant rebuke. With God, whether friend or foe, we can really begin to learn with the Psalmist's confidence, for our lament is to the source and substance of fire.


sbhebert said...

Thanks so much for mentioning Withering Fig! I just wanted to point out that my name has been misspelled. It should be "Hebert" not "Herbert." Thanks again!

Bob MacDonald said...