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Reflection on Psalm 83

“Blessed is the man whose help is from Thee, he hath made ascents in his heart.” (Ps. 83: 6a, LXX)

A Reflection on Psalm 83.

Lord, how lovely is Your dwelling place!

Perched birds look up, down, right, and left, from daybreak onward, seeking even the semblance of a seed.

I was a ragged, near-starved, pensive bird, my head aching from turning, turning, and turning when, beside Your altar, I found a home.

Beside Your altar yawning restlessness is rest.Grieved, I sigh deeply and Your Spirit becomes my breath. Each time I go out from there the longing to return only increases.

The emissaries brought testimony to their prince: “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations … For we cannot forget that beauty.”

They had travelled the world and brought back nothing except a beauty that called them to return. So they hoped in You, and made ascents in their hearts to Your holy place. And what is this place, Lord, but a share in who You are?

I -the sleepy bird with the aching head- bring here the little that I have. No more than a few grains of what the world forgot and a chirp of thanksgiving here and there.

Knowing that all comes from You, I yet make a meager offering of it.

How is it that You accept such vacuous gifts?

Even my whole life—such a small thing.

How is it that in the brittle aridness of the way to my heart You make springs? How is it that we may go from strength to strength, and not strength to weakness, or, more accurately, from our primary weakness to death?

I think it is because every way, impulse, or even thought of life began by Your mercy. And I have heard that Your mercy endures forever.

There are indeed days that I would rather scrub the floors in Your house than be flattered, or even served anywhere else, nevertheless, to abide there forever seems always just beyond my strength.

Brother Kontoglou, I hope to someday be like you, who said:

“When our minds experience sorrow we become closer to the Lord. For that reason, I don’t want a comfortable life without strife, but a broken heart.”

Lord, how lovely is Your dwelling place!

Dwelling here, even us ugly birds have become lovely; but broken hearted, seeing the world turning, turning, and turning, never finding a place to rest.