The following account of Richard Rohr’s Humbling Experience convicted me of the need to make sure I have Psalm 23 memorized.
Americans come at life expecting everything to work. It always has. I was born with seven silver spoons in my mouth. I had a strong family and was loved from the beginning. My parents paved a path for me. Do you realize what a head start that is? It’s wonderful
But there’s a dark side: People from privileged backgrounds expect that path always to be paved; they expect everything to work out. When it doesn’t, they’re not only disappointed, they feel wronged. They think, How dare reality not work out for me! Why should I have to suffer? How dare the air conditioner not work!
That explains the morose, quasi-depressed state of so many affluent countries and peoples. When you go to poor countries, these people who don’t have anything and for whom everything is going wrong from morning to night (and if you’ve there you’ll know that I’m not making this up) tend to be much happier than we are! And our tendency is to look and say they shouldn’t be happy, they have no reason to be happy. They don’t seem to have an agenda.
I remember visiting the Home for the Destitute and Dying in Jamaica. People lay in rags, with the smell and the lack of food and the sores. I thought, how could anybody live this way? From my world it was like hell. And yet I came as a priest to talk and pray with people. I’d stop and say, “Well, how are you?” They’d say, “Oh, fine.” And I’d want to say, “Fine? You’re not doing fine. You’re doing terribly! How can you say you’re doing fine?”
“Can I do anything for you?” I’d ask. One woman replied, “Oh just recite a psalm with me, Father, just recite a psalm.” And here the big Scripture man couldn’t think of a psalm (being a Catholic). This humble lady picked out my obvious embarrassment. Here I am, the great priest, coming to help her and I can’t even remember a psalm by heart. She sees it on my face and starts singing Psalm 23. “Just join in with me, Father. You just come along.”
There is a profound message here for our affluent culture. I knew I had met “the first in the Kingdom of God.” ~from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction
Just as this Jamaican woman invited Father Rohr to join her as she sang Psalm 23, so too does God invite us to journey with Him as our Lord and Shepherd. Are you ready to join the Lord? I have been on vacation the past few weeks, but I am back. In the days ahead, I will make up for missing posts and share with you how I joined the Lord on my vacation which was quite a journey!