Today is the beginning of the month of Elul, and I pulled out a few of my favorite versions of the Psalms. These books are non-traditional interpretations, which is why I love them. Opening to You: Zen-Inspired translations of the Psalms is a Jewish/Buddhist version written by Norman Fischer. Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness is a version by Nan Merrill in which she replaces all the antiquated God-language with words and images of love.
Here is a little sample to feast on:
With the joy of my heart
I will sacrifice
Within that billowing shelter
Singing and playing my abandonment to you
Hear my voice when I raise it up
Be gracious–answer me–
Speaking with your voice my heart sang,
Seek my presence
Teach me to be love,
As You are Love;
Lead me through each fear;
Hold my hand as I walk through
valleys of doubt each day,
That I may know your peace.
The Hebrew letters for the word Elul are also used as an acronym for the phrase Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li–I am my Beloved and my Beloved is Mine. We hold the paradox of Elul as a time to immerse ourselves in Love, as well as to engage in a daily practice of self-reflection and spiritual preparation. We are invited to feast on love while simultaneously evaluating the past year and determining what work needs to be done, what we must atone for. Personal work, spiritual work–as Nan Merrill says, an "invitation to wholeness."
Resting in the lap of love makes it easier to walk through fear, denial, resentment or shame. With the joy of my heart, I feel sturdy enough to face myself. To see myself. To hold myself accountable. And to sing and play as I go along.