Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lenten Mercy-Meditation: Friday After Ash Wednesday

When speaking about God the best we can do is to use metaphors and similes: God is like a mother bird with nestlings under wing. Indeed, the poet who wrote Psalm 90 had that mother bird in mind, shading her chicks from the noon sun with outstretched wings. 

For God will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

Psalm 90:3,4

To understand the psalm images more fully: the snare of the fowler is a hunter's net to catch birds. Can I name a time in my life when God in his kindness kept me from something that could be described as a net or trap, something intellectually, emotionally, relationally or vocationally capable of my undoing?

Deadly pestilence? I've met more than a few people, mostly teens who'd been living badly, who knew personally that they should be dead for what they'd been doing. But you don't need to be sixteen and living on the wild side to get that.

God covers us with pinions. Pinions are feathers. The tenderness or softness of God! The words themselves feel maternal. The Ronald Knox translation of the psalms, instead of saying we'd find refuge there, says that we would be nestlings under God's wings. Saint Romuald, the founder of the Camaldolese monks, enjoins young monastic trainees to practice what he calls chick theology - the quiet rest of being a nestling, secured under the fold of the divine wing. Try is for five minutes in the morning before the day gets busy; it's very beautiful!

And lastly, that God is faithful with shield and buckler. God is even militant in protecting us, soldier-like, carrying a shield to ward off arrows - flaming darts - that want to take me down. And while buckler is yet another word for shield, it also can refer to any means of protection and defense. So we might think of the long sword a warrior carries - perhaps double-edged: twice the power to protect me.

God's Mercy - God's Kindness. Early in Lent can I name these inner realities which are so personal to each of us?


  1. This is such a worthwhile stream of posts already, and Lent has just begun. There is so much growing to do.

  2. I'm grateful to Pope Francis and the Mercy Jubilee he's given us. And delighted that you've found the posts. God bless you and your family in the Lenten time! We grow with God's help.

  3. This is a beautiful interpretation of Psalm 90. Do you ever struggle to believe that God is a good and protecting God, amidst all the evil we are surrounded by? I will try to feel that quiet security as you state above.

  4. I don't struggle to believe that God is good - I struggle with what God's omnipotence means. I wonder if we have sent God away? I wonder that we have dis-empowered God - but I remain glad in God's love which I believe to be everlasting and sure. If God's only power is the power of God's love - that's more than enough for me. Though I do tell God often and even out loud that "we need a miracle."