Psalm to Myself

My angry stomach rumbles as I snooze my way out of the cheap cotton sheets lining my tiny hostel bed. I stumble to the dirty shower; my Chardonnay mind pounding heavily as it resists the early start to the day. 

Dodging bikes and fighting cold, I find my way to the heart of Amsterdam to explore the Museumplatz - home of the remnants of Van Gogh, Warhol, Banksy, Rembrandt & others, scattered like ashes amongst numerous museums around a spacious courtyard. 

I wrote the following in the Rijksmuseum, the largest museum in the Netherlands and one of the largest in the world. I frankly didn’t plan to spend all day there - Amsterdam is full of galleries to explore. I certainly hadn’t anticipated finding a work so profound I couldn’t leave it. I fall to my knees and take an awkward stance, getting lost in the 15th Century ink, the brushstrokes and vivid colors. 

 "Break of the Dike" Jan Asseljin 1510

"Break of the Dike" Jan Asseljin 1510

I'm only there a moment before a single tear rolls down my rosy cheek as I connect the dots five hundred years later. The billowing cloak of the man at the left shows that the storm is not yet over, however the squalls are already moving on at the right. The vivid red contrasts sharply with the bright blue of the parting clouds. 

I retrieve my Moleskine from my bag & pick up my fountain pen… this image, this painting, makes me think of Psalms. I’ve always been amazed by David - at his uncanny ability to express joy and anguish simultaneously. To describe in gruesome detail the painful situation he finds himself, yet proclaim the truth of who God is within the final lines. 

This is my story. This is my Psalm. 

______________________________

whimsy, hope, and kingdom

are what i hope to find -

yet why is all this darkness,

buried deep inside? 

 

i long to feel.

i long to heal.

free me from this place -

of sin, and woe, and angst.

free me from this melancholy,

free me from this brink.

 

am i going mental? 

have i lost my mind? 

where along the way,

did i find myself trapped inside?

the prison of this space -

the space behind my eyes -

an Alcatraz of my design;

an island, in my mind.

 

yet even in this place,

somewhere far at sea-

there is light in the distance;

illuminating You to me. 

 

i board the boat You designed,

to sail this stormy sea.

the winds are rough,

the sea is tough,

yet here You are with me. 

 

I feel the wind upon my face;

the sea salt stings my eyes.

 

i inhale all Your breath -

and move from life to death.

not death of You, but death of me;

for I am not my own.

 

Your breath brings life as my dark soul dies;

my black shirt changed to white.

Your breath has made me brave.

Your son has brought me life. 

 

the storm still rages 'round me -

my cloak billows in the wind.

rain may sting my face like pebbles,

but You've made me brave again. 

______________________________

I’m not sure I believe the end. I’m not sure David would either. Yet, he wrote his anyway. I can’t help but think that’s important. 

Choose courage. Choose hope. Choose truth. And, if nothing else, remember sometimes the wind we feel is nothing more than a storm’s final breaths.

Courage dear heart, 

-JM