instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, September 12, 2005

Clingy children

My soul clings to You; Your right hand holds me fast.
I've said these words often enough in Morning Prayer (Psalm 63:9 from the Grail Psalter, used for feasts, solemnities, and every fourth Sunday), but recently saw something new in them.

What does the word "clings" suggest? I envision hugging something close to your chest, with both arms wrapped around as tightly as possible. When a young child clings to his mother's leg, he's likely to wrap his legs around her, too. Clinging isn't something you do half-heartedly, or even single-handedly.

So if my soul clings to God, it's hanging on to Him for dear life, with both arms, so to speak.

Meanwhile, God is able to hold me fast with His right hand. The difference between clinging and holding demonstrates, among other things, our relative magnitudes: God is so much bigger than I am that what takes me both arms takes Him just one hand.

Now suppose I'm clinging, not just to God, but to something else as well. My wealth, say, or my job. How can I do this, except by holding God in one hand and the second object in the other? But if I'm holding God in one hand, then I've reversed our relationship. I've made God something small enough for me to hold onto, just one among other small things I can hold onto.

Is it any wonder that I have a hard time loving with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and my whole strength a god smaller than I am? Of course God is a jealous God; the only way He can be our God at all, rather than a kewpie doll we call God, is to fill our lives so completely, to be so large that we can only cling to Him or fall away from Him.

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