The Psalms are the poetic cornerstone of contemplative practice throughout the centuries. Yeshua's last words on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" are a quote from Psalm 22. In the ancient monastic tradition, all 150 psalms are chanted in the course of a single week, with some psalms chanted every day. We will begin with one of the pslams appointed for the feast day of Mary Magdalene. I invite you to work with this poem daily for our first week together. Notice how it is different if you read it aloud or if you chant the text in a simple Gregorian style. How does it feel in your body? What images arise within you as you say or sing the words? Try using the psalms a doorway into silence, returning to the word or phrase that most calls to your heart as a "formula" (the term early Christians used that is the equivalent of a mantra) To chant, stay on a monotone. At boldfaced words, go up. At italicized words, go down.
Psalm 139, NIV
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.