WEEK FOUR: REFRESHMENT
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 (NRSV)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We hear the stories about elderly people who struggle with memory loss, even to the point of no longer being able to speak. But when they hear a favorite Bible passage or a prayer being said, they suddenly perk up and join in! These passages and prayers have become such an integral part of their lives and memory that they are never forgotten. The words have been repeated so many times that they are permanently etched in their minds. I imagine they provide such comfort and peace for the elderly one- and the ones who love them.
Our word for today is Repeat. This passage from Deuteronomy instructed the people of Israel to do everything they could to commit the commandments of God to memory. They were to talk, write, bind and repeat them, often and everywhere they could. This repetition would help them retain these important words and make them part of their very being.
I have repeated the Lord’s Prayer so often that, at times, this is exactly what it becomes… a rote repetition. I may not always think about its meaning or earnestly pray as I say the words. Yet I still come away feeling a sense of peace or presence, simply by slowing and reciting the prayer. I believe we receive an inner gift even when the prayer is said without much thought…
Repeat. Sometimes the practice is needed even more than the presence. Friends tell me that the repetitive prayer of the rosary is calming and centering. Many people repeat the 23rd Psalm during trying times. When Jim and I had our serious health issues, we found comfort in our simple morning routine. Activities such as making the bed, brewing the coffee, lighting a candle, writing in my journal, and praying together brought a sense of normalcy and order. These repeated routines felt comforting and reassuring, providing a bit of control into our disarrayed lives. Repeating memorized scripture passages can do the same, settling and soothing our souls.
What is your most meaningful and treasured Bible verse? How does it bless you?
What rituals and routines comfort you and center you in times of trial?
Is there a new practice that might bless you by repeating each day?
If you have time today, try to find a new Bible verse, poem or quote that speaks to your soul. Repeat this a few times and then throughout the day until it is committed to memory. My prayer for you is that these words will become a treasured, integral part of your being, and one day may be easily recalled and repeated at the moment when you need them most.
Your words and commands are precious gifts to us. Guide us to repeat them often, and to make them part of our very being. Help us to choose the words you would have especially for us. Thank you for daily practices that help us to center and settle; gentle reminders of your presence with us always. Amen.