We have now reached the last summit of the mountain chain of Psalms. It rises high into the clear azure, and its brow is bathed in the sunlight of the eternal world of worship, it is a rapture. The poet prophet is full of inspiration and enthusiasm. He slays not to argue, to teach, to explain; but cries with burning words, “Praise him, Praise him, Praise ye the LORD.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92)
I read that the book of psalms parallels the spiritual journey. Two paths are outlined, the way to life and the way to death. If we choose God’s way to life, we still face blessings and sorrows, joy and grief, success and obstacles. All of these experiences of our lives can be found in the psalms. At the end of our journey, we may find ourselves inhabiting a place that not only revels in God’s grace, but also where we find God’s grace to be immanent and transcendent. When this is experienced, gratitude and praise are the natural emotions one feels and is movedto express.
My personality is not very extroverted; indeed, I am mostly drawn inward, to silence and to quiet conversations rather than to outward displays of exuberance (no surprise that I have the personality of a Quaker or a Buddhist…) This is not to say that I don’t feel a tremendous gratitude and praise for God. When the psalmist suggests all these outward displays of singing praise, I smile. Yes, we may praise in these noisy and jubilant ways – with the sound of the trumpet, or the high sounding symbols, the beat of the tambourines, and with the timbrel and dance as was once introduced into the temples and tabernacles, and is found today in modern churches. However… this jubilation and praise also happens in the heart, in the depths of our silence, in which we may be moved to tears with gratitude and love for this Absolute wonder of our lives. This is the feeling of rapture, of being so in love with the beloved, that one feels drunk with love and praise. And how does the silent heart sing God’s praise? Perhaps by being truly mindful, and by truly loving – by noticing and loving in a rich and warm and full manner for all that breathes, all that is experienced, and all that is given. Our own soft smile is a song of praise.