Friday, May 7, 2010
Psalm for Friday: Psalm 93, Verse 3
The floods have lifted up, O God, the floods have lifted up their voice; The floods lift up their waves.
The psalms are filled with anthropomorphic images of the natural world. Mountains skip and jump, heavens rejoice, the land celebrates, and here the waters are singing or shouting and the waves are the percussive accompaniment. All of these psalms remind us of our connection to the created world. All is connected to God. All is a part of God. All is God.
In psalm 93 the Hebrew word naharot נהרות, almost universally translated as "floods" is not the same word used for THE flood in Noah's time (the word there is מבול mabul). Here the flood waters are powerful, but they are not destructive. Instead, they are lifting up their voices and crashing their waves for God. They are celebrating God's existance. They are celebrating the universe of which they are a part.
And yet, as with all bodies of water on this earth, rising up can also bring destruction. This is not the case here. This reminds us that things are never all one way or the other. That which one person labels as 'good' or 'beautiful' another may label as 'bad' or 'ugly'.
Ultimately labels are all subjective. Yet there is an ultimate Truth that underlies everything. The Truth about the waters is that they are waters. The Truth about the mountains is that they are mountains. The Truth about human beings is that they are human beings. The Truth about everything and everyone is that we are One with and within the Divine.
It is so easy for us to judge. It is so easy for us to fear certain things and to be attracted to others. Yet, just as the waters can be feared or can draw us in, so too all beings contain within them inherent contradictions. Only the connection to the Divine is the underlying, unchanging Truth.
The next time we react in a habitual way to something or someone, the next time we are judgmental, let us remember to look with equanimity, composure and clarity. If we do so, perhaps we will be able to hear the singing and clapping of the waves beneath what we may have believed to be dangerous or threatening waters.
There is a melody to the universe that is within all things, if we just listen and pay attention. And that melody is the song of the Divine.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 12:18 AM
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