Sink or swim: a reflection for the second Friday of Lent

Editors' note: Every day of Lent Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill will be providing audio reflections on the Psalms of the day as part of America's “The Word” podcast. 

Advertisement

Subscribe to “The Word” for free on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe to “The Word” for free on Google Play
Listen to “The Word” online with your web browser

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice!. ~ Ps 130:1-2

The only time I have truly been in peril on the sea was years ago when, on a solo outing in the family Sunfish off the beach, I capsized. As the sail filled with water and the waves billowed around me, I made several unsuccessful attempts to right the boat. In those moments I experienced a potent mixture of panic, adrenaline, fear and desperation—probably much like the feelings that our psalmist channels in the marvelously onomatopoeic opening verse of Psalm 130 (the Hebrew for “out of the depths” is mim-ma-a-ma-kim, the repeated “m”s conjuring the chattering teeth of one struggling in deep, cold water).

One need not have been physically engulfed by billows to know what it feels like to be drowning. We may be submerged by the needs of family members, or the demands of academic work, or job pressures, or the strictures of illness or addiction or lack of money. And in those desperate moments—often not until those moments—we cry out for the saving hand of God, acknowledging that he alone can save us. Perhaps the gift of the rough seas is that they force us to acknowledge our utter dependence on the One who loves us.

As Augustine observes in his exposition of Psalm 130, “For this mortal life is our deep. Whoever has understood himself to be in the deep cries out, groans, sighs, until he be delivered from the deep, and come unto Him who sits above all the deeps.”

Lord God, creator of the earth and master of the deep, Accompany and protect me as I sail forth upon the uncertain seas of my life. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

To hear J.S. Bach’s cantata “Aus der Tiefen, rufe ich, Herr, zu dir,” BWV 131, click here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Lent

The latest from america

 A photo panel shows Pennsylvania Bishops Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown, Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg and Lawrence T. Persico of Erie. The Pennsylvania attorney general released a grand jury report Aug. 14 on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning a 70-year period in the six dioceses. (CNS photo/courtesy of the dioceses)
The state’s attorney general said that his office’s two-year investigation identified 301 priests who abused children and more than 1,000 victims.
One of the leading novelists of our age on faith, fiction and his distrust of religious institutions.
James T. KeaneAugust 14, 2018
Panel members Ivor Frank and Alexis Jay at a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (courtesy of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse)
The new report finds evidence of appalling sexual and physical mistreatment of students as young as 7, as well as a culture of secrecy, at two abbey schools.
David StewartAugust 14, 2018
The Gospel calls on all of us to get past “analysis paralysis,” where direct action is always put off in favor of more research and discernment.
Mary M. McConnahaAugust 14, 2018