Sunday, November 29, 2009

All My Life's a Circle...

Concentric circles are cool in general and important in poetry. They exude inclusiveness while acknowledging distinctiveness; they reflect the whole but also impart a sense of the multiplicity of conditions.

Psalm 145 verse 16 presents us with a series of concentric circles surrounding the idea of divine providence. To what extent does God strike up a relationship with us in His world? And what is the nature of that connection? Perhaps there is no relationship at all with us?

These questions are raised obliquely in verse 16 as David poetically draws circle upon circle to convey his messages all together. In order to appreciate the motifs we must be ready to divide verses not simply into versets but even smaller pieces, as long as there still remains a coherent thought.

1. God is close
2. God is close to all
3. God is close to all who call Him
4. God is close to all who call Him in truth

Which one is right? All of them! At different times, in different locales, with different populations, the answer to this question takes on a new form. In a psalm which sometimes conveys the transcendence of God, with objective praises referring to His almighty power and omniscience (verse 3, God is great and His greatness is unsearchable; verse 8, God's all encompassing compassion; verse 9, God's greatness and mercy to all creations; God's kingship is eternal...), verse 18 journeys to the other pole of the spectrum--God's immanence.

Immanence is about closeness. How close? Close to whom? Close when?
The answer is found in a typically all encompassing manner in verse 18. Concentric circles embody all of God's closeness with us on earth. 1. It exists. 2. It exists or can exist for all humanity--'children of God'. 3. But is there not a covenant, a relationship built on the responsibility of one to the other? Close to those who call. 4. Even within the realm of calling out to God there are degradations, another circle within a circle. Who stands in the inner sanctum? Who merits to stand by the rock and witness the fleeting yet supernal experience?

"Those who call to Him in truth".

ve'idach perusha zil gmor