Dear Psalm 50,
To be honest, I do not pray enough in college. I guess that comes from being so busy, but I really think that is an excuse I keep telling myself. In high school, I read you every night before I went to sleep sort of as a challenge to myself to see if I was capable of being that pious person who prayed “enough” and was a “good” Christian, practicing her faith even before she went to sleep.
When I went away for school, I lost the habit. I think because, of course, moving to a new place, I had trouble adjusting, but more than that, I do not think you were ever living inside me. I had not established a personal relationship with your words, and I did not know when I would.
Ironically, God answered my unspoken prayer: Spring Semester of 2016 I took a Shakespeare Acting Class. In this class, I was essentially taught how to properly read his texts. Our professor expressed that we have to listen to what the text is telling us and put aside all our preconceived notions about what we think Shakespeare is saying. It is not about us, rather the importance of clarity in relationship between the performer and the author.
With this knowledge, sections of your thoughts were illuminated for me, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love, according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions…”
It is because of poetry in other places, I was able to relate to the poetry I am given in your words. Moreover, I see the beauty in the language in which you are written that I was not able to appreciate before. It is easy to pray passively, but Psalm 50, you made it personal, and I thank God for that.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Claire is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Theater and Performance Studies and English. She currently attends Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco. Her favorite Saint is Saint Pelagia the actress and when not in church or the theater, she likes to spend her time exploring San Francisco, reading plays, and eating sushi.