Can You Rewrite a Psalm?
This week, special Guest Blogger, member of our church family and author on grief and loss, Andrea Corrie, encourages us to have a go at rewriting a psalm!
(Photograph - Andrea Corrie)
One of the joys of being a writer is, for me, also being a reader. I love it when I find an author whose words have an impact on me and whose style of writing is easy to read and absorb. I have just read Christian author and presenter Amy Boucher Pye’s new book, Transforming Love: how Friendship with Jesus changes us. I would highly recommend it. The book is not simply one to read from cover to cover, but also contains sections for personal reflection, and prayer exercises. In this book, I have come across Amy’s practice of personalising Psalm 23. She says, Jesus is our friend, and a wonderful way to express various aspects of this relationship is through personalising and adapting Psalm 23. This has been a favourite activity for me since a writer (Jonathan Burnside) told me about this practice some years ago. I have tried this several times now, and I have to say I am absolutely hooked on the idea! It had never occurred to me to effectively plagiarise the sacred words of the Bible. But having tried it, I find it offers fantastic freedom of expression within a format that is relatively easy to follow. The renditions begin with ‘The Lord is my …’ and there are numerous examples on Amy’s website at https://amyboucherpye.com as well as those at the end of each chapter. In Chapter Five of the book, Amy writes movingly and compassionately about grief: firstly she tells of the time when she lost her 19 year old friend to a car accident. She then relates the compassion and love that Jesus showed to his friends, the sisters Martha and Mary on the death of Lazarus. She makes a comparison with our present-day culture and provides words that will resonate completely with anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, be it partner, friend or child: Many people feel awkward in talking to friends or acquaintances whose loved ones have died, thinking that speaking of the person will be difficult for the one grieving. A friend whose husband recently died said to me, ‘I’m thinking of him and about him all the time anyway, so yes, please say his name’. After my son James died in 2005, it was easy to think that other people had forgotten him because they did not say his name; in reality, they were sparing my feelings … but it didn’t quite work out that way. I longed for others to say his name; and all this time on, I still do. Amy concludes the chapter with an exercise called ‘Learning to Lament’ which I have not yet tried but it looks to be a cathartic process; she details her own responses to the exercise which also led me into understanding that I need to be far more open in my prayerful conversations. She writes as though she is having questing, interesting conversation with a friend, rather than someone she has put on a Godly pedestal. Her style is definitely an example to follow. The chapter closes with Amy’s personalised rendition of Psalm 23 with the opening line The Lord is the Messiah, I lack nothing. I was inspired by this chapter to write my own personalised version of Psalm 23. I thought deeply about how the Lord represents a place of safety for me in my thoughts. I also recognise how He moves me along in my grieving process in indefinable but true ways, as my Christian faith deepens. I hope you enjoy reading it and are perhaps moved to write your own versions of the Psalm, as Amy suggests. Every Blessing Andrea Corrie A Listener
The Lord is my listener I need no other confidant He draws out my life’s stories He heals my distress He reminds me he is steadfast By the essence of his Holy name
Even when I cry out in lament I know that you soothe my losses I am not living without hope For your presence heals my grief You are my rock, my comforter On whom I can always lean
You protect me from the ignorance Of those who don’t understand You turn my hurt towards joy And lamentation becomes rejoicing. Surely your comfort and succour Will lead me ever forward And I will know the everlasting light That shines in your house always Read more from Andrea via her blog here Buy Andrea's latest book on Amazon here. (We may receive a small donation from Amazon for any purchases made through this link)
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