Reflections by Jerry Webber

Monday, May 21, 2018

Every Day . . . Singing a New Song

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, and bless God's name.

(Ps. 96:1)

This is the daily invitation extended to God's people, that we sing a new song each day we live. The new song is not some rehearsal of an ancient truth, nor a recitation of God's past acts of kindness . . . but rather, the very way those ancient truths and past acts of kindness are being lived out in my own fresh experience day after day. No one has lived my path before, no one has lived my life in my way, no one has taken the particular pieces of my life and held them together in just this way before. My life, connected intimately with God, is to be sung in a way that gives life to the world.

You, too, are invited to sing a new song in a way that is faithful to your experience of God and in a way that gives life to you and the world.

So I'm not so interested in a recitation of ancient propositions about God or in sharing information about God. Rather, the contemplative presence asks, "How is God shaping my life and my world today? How am I joining or resisting this 'new song'? Am I able to live with openness and receptivity this fresh day? . . . this fresh day in which whatever happens is new, not precedented, not predicted, not prescribed?"

This stance does not mean the past is unimportant, nor that I should forget the former acts of God in me or in my world. It does mean, however, that all I know of God from study and all I have experienced of God in my own journey becomes a part of a stance that lives fully "the dearest freshness deep down things" (Gerard Manley Hopkins in "God's Grandeur").

The new song the psalm-prayer encourages is new each day because no one has lived my (or your) particular path before I (or you) arrived. "O sing a new song to the Lord."

My own path has been characterized by transition in recent months, and the transition simply means there have been significant endings and daily beginnings. I continue to grieve the endings . . . separation by many miles from persons I love dearly, from the common experiences, language, and desires that brought us together. At the same time, I have found new energy in exploring both outer and inner landscapes that feel life-giving. Daily, new discoveries touch a part of me that has been starving. Morning by morning new mercies I see.

I hold, often in awkward tension, the poles of activity and passivity, both of which scream out for a total commitment to one or the other. Activity says, "Nothing happens unless you initiate it. You'll have to work hard to build an audience, market yourself, and step into this next chapter of your life."

Passivity says, "Just wait. Be patient. See what comes to you. Don't force anything. Be still."

As both extremes speak, I'm trying not to fall over the ledge on either end of the spectrum. My desire is to faithfully sing the new song that is my life in connection with God, for the sake of the world. The question, phrased in various ways depending on the day, tends to sound something like this:

In this season of my life, how am I invited to live in openness and receptivity (two primary traits of contemplative experience, I believe) the one life that is mine to live? What is my unique path? What is the way that is mine to follow? In what way am I invited to sing a new song day by day?

In my next post, I'll offer a couple of thoughts on the particular stances that seem helpful in stepping into this daily "new song" we are invited to sing. And I'll pass along a couple of poems I hope you'll find helpful, as well.

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