Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Felicia Roper.
Bells give order to the life of the Benedictine community at St. Mary’s Abbey. The large bell over the chapel calls the community to prayer seven times a day. A small dinner bell is rung in the guest house to call visitors to meals. These bells mark time, but they also indicate what needs to be done. They tell the community inside the walls of the abbey when it’s time to gather for prayer or table fellowship. The large bell tells the entire village of West Malling that the sisters are gathering for prayer.
In our psalm for the day, the psalmist is in a pretty miserable state. (Psalm 31:9-16) Sorrow, rejection, and grief have been the writer’s lot recently. This is truly a psalm of lament. In fact, this kind of psalm makes up about a third of the psalms in the Hebrew Bible. They typically name before God the bad things that have happened. “I need to be sure you know what I’ve been enduring,” the psalmists seem to say to God in anguished prayers for healing, for support, for restoration, or for safety. But these psalms also tend to end with an affirmation of the goodness of God. “My life is hard,” says Psalm 31, “But I trust in you, O God; I say ‘My times are in your hand.’” (vv.14-15)
Most of us tend to do our most earnest praying when times are tough. But the rhythm of the bells calling the Sisters to prayer reminded me that all of our times—the wonderful as well as the dreadful—are in God’s hand. This is not to say the Holy One causes everything to happen to us. Rather it is an affirmation that whatever befalls us, each moment of each day of our lives is held in the steadfast love of God.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.