Psalm 42 pictures the longing for God as a deep and visceral longing, like a thirsty one with dry parched mouth longing for a refreshing drink or an animal hungering and thirsting for its next bit of nourishment. The Psalmist describes a desperation for connection with the Sacred One whose presence and care are the well-spring of life. In the midst of her or his heart-ache, trial, and longing, they know connection with the Living One is necessity not option. It offers something as essential to their struggle as rest, food, sleep.
I’ve seen this happen so much with people even who are not religious in the midst of trial and suffering, change and transition. Something awakens in them and even if they do not have strong religious beliefs, they know there is a longing that the things for which they have spent their days are not enough. So they begin to explore various faiths, to engage in meditation or yoga, to cultivate a connection to places they have heard connect with the deep wells of life-giving spirit.
In my own life I have found this to be true. Prayer, mediation, contemplative practices like breath prayer, lection divina, journaling, Scripture reading, hymn singing, sitting with nature, all have been places and ways I have found connection with this deep well of life-giving spirit available to all people. Finding this connection has repeatedly given me encouragement in times of distress and sadness, perspective when I felt overwhelmed and like giving up, and new energy when I felt I was done.
I also have found that when I fail to practice in my personal life what gives me this connection with spirit, I find myself begin to lose the perspective, encouragement, strength, and resiliency I need to continue the work for social justice, of supporting the hurting, and of pushing forward in new paths in my own life.
And I believe this deep well I and others who begin to practice spirituality in answer to our deep longing is not just some vague connection with our deepest selves or nature. Rather it is connecting with that One who holds all things together, who weaves all of time and space in creation into a grand design, the loving God who knows our name and calls us not just into being but into a bright future. I experience in these moments of deep connection through my spirituality a sense of joining a great dance all about me and deep within the heart of creation, which I know to be in my Christian faith the dance of love the Father, Son, and mothering Holy Spirit have shared from all eternity. Whether you see this deep connection with spirit in the Christian terms I do or some other, know it is a connection with Love and that is life-giving. Join me in sitting in the presence of the Holy, drinking deep of the wells of life.