What stands out to me is that is how God’s rescue and transformation places us in an open field. One translation says we are placed into a broad place where there is no cramping. In the context of the Psalm this experience happens within an otherwise confining situation: where the person is experiencing great trial, and even persecution by others. Such traumatic and trying experiences normally cause someone to feel their world is shrinking, becoming more cramped. People will talk of feeling stuck, or feeling powerless.
Yet the presence of God in our lives causes our lives to open up, at the core of our being, so that we experience a freedom otherwise that would be wanting. It causes us to experience possibilities where otherwise we would feel hopeless. It causes us to find personal ability where otherwise we would feel powerless. God’s presence, when we make room for it, causes our life to open up and be more free.
This is true in our daily lives, in ordinary moments of the 9 to 5, raising kids, doing chores, being a neighbor or a spouse. Yet it is also true in times of crisis. In my work as a chaplain I have seen so many people face trial and trauma in their lives. Each experience moments and seasons in that trying time in which everything feels like it is closing in on them. But some also describe to me that they get in touch with something in their life that renews their sagging spirits, and opens up their life so that instead of darkness they can see a light. These people speak of renewed hope, and renewed possibilities. For some this is in deeply religious language, and for others it is less so. I feel my work as a chaplain is in part to help people come in contact with that place in their lives which helps them find that broad place where there is no cramping, especially when without it they might feel life has closed in on them.
For me this is a key part of what the spiritual life is about. Even when not called “God”, I know that what people participate in during those times they find that broad place to stand without stooping or crowding in the midst of trials is the same One I touch in my daily spiritual practice. Through prayer, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and my other spiritual practices I touch that One who dwells in the Center of all life and being, inviting that One to open me up to life, to hope, to possibilities, and inviting that One to help me become a vessel of such liberty, life, and healing for others.
May you touch the Spirit in whom we live and move and have our being today, and find a broad place without stooping, so that you may both more fully live and also become a vessel of healing and liberation to others hurting this day.