Saturday Week 25 Year II

What a miserable first reading! Full of foreboding, ripe with the warning that good times always end and fancies flee away. Yet it is poetic—beautiful in a way—it moves me even though I don’t want to go where it is going.
And it’s full of a conflict too. It seems impossible to read that piece of scripture in a single voice. It’s more like a chorus or a duet. The first voice we hear is promising and permissive—“rejoice, take joy, listen to your heart, and follow your desires.” But the second is cynical and punishing: rejoice now and you’ll pay for it later!
There’s a hardness there, almost a delight in death: youth will pass, old age will haunt you and even that will be whisked from under your aching feet and no sooner will you buried than forgotten. Vanity, all is vanity! … Blah!
I prefer the first voice, I rely on the first voice: cast worry from your heart, it says, shield your flesh from pain; it is harvest time, a time of plenty, rejoice, enjoy, live!
We each have our own duelling duet inside us, our own two voices each trying to drown out the other and win our hearts. One urges us to life, to love, to living, to ease and to joy. The other bullies us with worry and waste, with fear and difficulty and death. Which is God’s voice? Do you know? Do you hope?
That’s the thing about retreat … maybe the real voice of the real God gets a little clearer, a little harder to resist, a little more attractive. And maybe it gets a little easier to tune out the voice of doom and gloom and loss.
That’s my prayer for us all today: that we might learn to love the voice of God and believe its blessings.